Duke Kunshan and Jiangsu Government Agencies Unveil A U.S.-China Collaborative Research Center To Tackle Ozone Pollution

Nov. 9, the Regional Ozone Sino-US Collaborative Research Center (ROSUC) was unveiled at this year’s Jiangsu New Environmental Protection Technology Conference. Xu Jinrong, vice chairman of Jiangsu Political Consultative Conference and chairman of Jiangsu Province Environment Federation, and Dr. Denis Simon, executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan University, announced the research center’s establishment at the event’s opening ceremony. 

The research center, which will be based at Duke Kunshan University, is a collaboration among Duke Kunshan University, Jiangsu Provincial Academy of Environmental Science, Jiangsu Environmental Monitoring Center and Jiangsu Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The first research center targeting ozone pollution in China, ROSUC is headed by Dr. Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, professor of global and environmental health at Duke Kunshan University and Duke University.

According to Prof. Zhang, ozone levels exceed the air quality standards more frequently than PM2.5 in warm months in many parts of China, but the specific health risks associated with ozone exposure are still largely unknown for the region. Based on the experiences of the United States, controlling ozone pollution is more challenging than controlling PM2.5 and other air pollutants. To better understand the sources, regional transport, and health impact of ozone in Jiangsu and the Yangtze River Delta region, ROSUC will bring together researchers from Duke University, Duke Kunshan University, Peking University, the Environmental Protection Department and the Commission of Health and Family Planning of Jiangsu Province to conduct innovative ozone research.

Xu Jinrong, chairman of Jiangsu Province Environment Federation, held high expectations for the future development of ROSUC. She pointed out that ozone pollution has emerged as a serious challenge for Jiangsu over the last several years, and a major factor that influences the chance for the region to meet acceptable air quality standards. She also expressed her expectation that the ROSUC will conduct high-quality, cutting-edge research on the sources, formation and transport, and health impacts of ozone pollution, to provide scientific evidence for ozone pollution control and prevention in Jiangsu Province.

“We are working actively with the local government to integrate scientific research into policy decisions,” said Denis Simon, executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan. “With the establishment of ROSUC, one of our goals is to formulate a prediction and warning system for local ozone levels to reduce ozone exposure and decrease population health risks.”

Junfeng Zhang, professor of global and environmental health at Duke University and Duke Kunshan University, added, “We know scientifically the high ozone levels in Jiangsu are posing health risks for its people and the environment (ozone damages crops), which calls for immediate attention and action.”

“Ozone formation is a key to understanding why PM2.5 pollution is so severe in China; during high PM2.5 pollution episodes, secondary organic aerosols, which are formed together with ozone, comprise a large fraction of PM2.5,”  said Professor Xiaoyan Tang from Peking University, an internationally renowned atmospheric chemist and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Prof. Tang also attended the unveiling ceremony. She chairs the Advisory Committee of the ROSUC.