Long-term (2005–2015) trend analysis of PM2.5 precursor gas NO2 and SO2 concentrations in Taiwan

Chih Sheng Lee, Ken Hui Chang, Hyunook Kim

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31 Scopus citations


Ground air monitoring stations have been installed in Taiwan since 1993 to ensure whether the criteria air pollutants meet the ambient air quality standards. In the present study, the data from the monitoring stations were used to evaluate long-term (2005–2015) trend of NO2 and SO2 in three metropolitan cities (northern Taipei, central Taichung, and southern Kaohsiung), two eastern coastal cities (Hualien and Taitung), and one agricultural city in west-central plain (Douliu); those cities essentially covered the entire region of Taiwan. The results indicate that SO2 and NO2 concentrations of all studied six cities meet the annual average standards of 30 and 50 ppb, respectively. After deseasonalizing the original data and using 7-month moving average, the trend analysis reveals a decreasing trend ranging from 0.15 to 0.57 ppb/year (R2 from 0.33 to 0.85) for NO2 and 0.06 to 0.45 ppb/year (R2 from 0.32 to 0.92) for SO2; the corresponding reductions over the 10-year span are 4 to 42% for NO2 and 22 to 52% for SO2. The reduction trend, despite the growth in GDP, vehicle numbers and energy consumption, industrial output, etc., is similar to those of developed countries. Clearly, there are seasonal/monthly variation patterns for these two precursor gases with minimum levels in summer (July) and maximum in winter (December). The concentration reductions, however, were lagging behind the respective emission reductions. There are significant correlations among six cites for NO2 (r = 0.58–0.93) and, to some extent, SO2 (0.32–0.66). The correlation between SO2 and NO2 (r = 0.46–0.74) indicates same or similar emission sources. Furthermore, the correlation between observed pollutant concentrations and their emission is excellent for SO2 in two cities (0.79–0.96). The SO2/NO2 ratios vary with city and time and the value is site specific. For example, in 2005, the SO2/NO2 ratio was 0.38 in Kaohsiung and 0.18 in both Taipei and Taichung, the latter reflecting significant contribution from mobile sources. However, they all converged to 0.18–0.28 in 2015 in the six cities evaluated. All in all, the policies/measures made by the central and local government are effective in reducing ambient SO2 and NO2 levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22136-22152
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Ground air monitoring data
  • Long-term trend analysis
  • SO/NO ratio
  • Seasonal/monthly variation pattern
  • Taiwan air quality


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