Personal exposure to PM2.5 of indoor and outdoor origin in two neighboring Chinese communities with contrasting household fuel use patterns

Xiaoying Li, Sierra Clark, Emily Floess, Jill Baumgartner, Tami Bond, Ellison Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Chinese government is replacing high-polluting, household coal heating stoves with electricity- and natural gas-powered heaters to improve ambient air quality. The evaluation of the intervention impact on outdoor PM2.5 and personal exposure in community level are in their initial stages. We compared outdoor air pollution and personal exposure in two neighboring communities (~2 km) in northern China with contrasting household fuel use patterns: one where residents primarily used coal for cooking and heating (“coal village”) and one where natural gas was the dominant fuel (“gas village”). We collected 24-h outdoor gravimetric PM2.5 samples in each village and concurrently measured 48-h integrated exposures among 71 participants from 41 and 30 households in the coal and gas villages, respectively. PM2.5 samples were analyzed for mass and chemical composition. Daily outdoor PM2.5 concentrations in the coal village (mean ± standard deviation: 109 ± 41 μg/m3) were, on average, 1.3 ± 0.2 times higher than in the gas village (88 ± 38 μg/m3). However, personal PM2.5 exposures were lower in the coal village (116 ± 121 μg/m3 versus 156 ± 106 μg/m3). PM2.5 species that can serve as tracers for residential coal combustion (e.g., S, Se, Zn, Pb, etc.) and dust (Al, Ca, Mg, Fe, Si and Ti) were higher in the coal village, and the proportion of personal PM2.5 of outdoor origin in the coal village was nearly 2 times higher than the gas village. Our results suggest that ambient PM2.5 and its chemical composition can vary at relatively small spatial scales and may reflect community-level differences in the household energy use. However, personal PM2.5 exposures may not mirror between-village differences in outdoor air pollution if only PM2.5 mass is evaluated. Individual chemical composition of PM2.5 exposure can provide important insight in future studies on the effectiveness of source-targeted air quality interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number149421
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Dec 15 2021


  • Coal combustion
  • Household energy transition
  • Natural gas
  • Outdoor
  • PM personal exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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