Soil acidification in China: Is controlling SO2 emissions enough?


Yu Zhao, Lei Duan, Jia Xing, Thorjorn Larssen, Chris P Nielsen, and Jiming Hao. 2009. “Soil acidification in China: Is controlling SO2 emissions enough?” Environmental Science and Technology, 43, 21, Pp. 8021-8026. Publisher's Version


Facing challenges of increased energy consumption and related regional air pollution, China has been aggressively implementing flue gas desulfurization (FGD) and phasing out small inefficient units in the power sector in order to achieve the national goal of 10% reduction in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from 2005 to 2010. In this paper, the effect of these measures on soil acidification is explored. An integrated methodology is used, combining emission inventory data, emission forecasts, air quality modeling, and ecological sensitivities indicated by critical load. National emissions of SO2, oxides of nitrogen (NOX), particulate matter (PM), and ammonia (NH3) in 2005 were estimated to be 30.7, 19.6, 31.3, and 16.6 Mt, respectively. Implementation of existing policy will lead to reductions in SO2 and PM emissions, while those of NOX and NH3 will continue to rise, even under tentatively proposed control measures. In 2005, the critical load for soil acidification caused by sulfur (S) deposition was exceeded in 28% of the country’s territory, mainly in eastern and south-central China. The area in exceedance will decrease to 26% and 20% in 2010 and 2020, respectively, given implementation of current plans for emission reductions. However, the exceedance of the critical load for nitrogen (N, combining effects of eutrophication and acidification) will double from 2005 to 2020 due to increased NOX and NH3 emissions. Combining the acidification effects of S and N, the benefits of SO2 reductions during 2005−2010 will almost be negated by increased N emissions. Therefore abatement of N emissions (NOX and NH3) and deposition will be a major challenge to China, requiring policy development and technology investments. To mitigate acidification in the future, China needs a multipollutant control strategy that integrates measures to reduce S, N, and PM.


Final Manuscript in DASH
Last updated on 02/06/2020