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Air Pollution Characteristics Before, During, and After the Beijing Olympics

Zhu, Tong*; Li, Xin; Hu, Min*; Tang, Xiaoyan*; Team, Carebeijing*

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362836.37333.86
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts: Symposia Presentations

*College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China; and †Environmental Protection Bureau, Beijing, China.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the organizations of Epidemiology. Affliate Societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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The air quality in Beijing has been improved significantly in the last decade. Yet this improvement was undermined by rapid increases in vehicles numbers and energy consumption in Beijing. For the 2008 Beijing Olympics, air pollution was a serious concern. In order to formulate air pollution control strategies for the 2008 Olympics and to evaluate the controlling effects, an international collaborative project, CAREBEIJING (Campaigns of Air Quality Research in Beijing and Surrounding Regions) led by Peking University was conducted in the summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008. In the meantime, a health study (CAREBEIJING-H) with two panels assessing cardiovascular and respiratory responses of susceptible populations was also conducted.

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With the efforts of more than 100 scientists and students from 20 research institutes in different countries, ground, aircraft, and satellite observations were carried out to measure gaseous and particulate pollutants and to study the transfer and transport of air pollutants.

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The extensive data on gaseous and particulate pollutants collected were used to guide the government's air pollution control policies for the Beijing Olympics and to assess the effectiveness of these policies. The main findings are: 1) PM and O3 were the two most important pollutants to control during the Beijing Olympics; 2) SO2 and VOCs were the major precursors of PM and ozone, therefore, the controlling measures should focus on them; 3) regional controlling efforts were needed. During the Olympics, significant reductions of NOx, SO2, CO, BC, PM2.5, and O3 were observed. The level of reduction ranged from 10% to 60%, depending on which period to compare with.

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The air pollution control during the Beijing 2008 Olympic game is one of the largest air quality experiments and a unique public health intervention experiment. Its success provides a great lesson for megacity air pollution control.

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