Household Fuels Exceed Power Plants and Cars as Source of Smog in Beijing

John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Beijing and surrounding areas of China often suffer from choking smog. The Chinese government has made commitments to improve air quality and has achieved notable results in reducing emissions from the power and transportation sectors. However, new research indicates that the government could dramatically improve air quality with more attention to an overlooked source of outdoor pollution — residential cooking and heating.

“Coal and other dirty solid fuels are frequently used in homes for cooking and heating,” said Denise Mauzerall, one of the researchers and a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs at Princeton University. “Because these emissions are essentially uncontrolled, they emit a disproportionately large amount of air pollutants which contribute substantially to smog in Beijing and surrounding regions.”