Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Volume 226, 2021
Previous Article Next Article

Introductory lecture: air quality in megacities

Author affiliations


Urbanization is an ongoing global phenomenon as more and more people are moving from rural to urban areas for better employment opportunities and a higher standard of living, leading to the growth of megacities, broadly defined as urban agglomeration with more than 10 million inhabitants. Intense activities in megacities induce high levels of air pollutants in the atmosphere that harm human health, cause regional haze and acid deposition, damage crops, influence air quality in regions far from the megacity sources, and contribute to climate change. Since the Great London Smog and the first recognized episode of Los Angeles photochemical smog seventy years ago, substantial progress has been made in improving the scientific understanding of air pollution and in developing emissions reduction technologies. However, much remains to be understood about the complex processes of atmospheric oxidation mechanisms; the formation and evolution of secondary particles, especially those containing organic species; and the influence of emerging emissions sources and changing climate on air quality and health. While air quality has substantially improved in megacities in developed regions and some in the developing regions, many still suffer from severe air pollution. Strong regional and international collaboration in data collection and assessment will be beneficial in strengthening the capacity. This article provides an overview of the sources of emissions in megacities, atmospheric physicochemical processes, air quality trends and management in a few megacities, and the impacts on health and climate. The challenges and opportunities facing megacities due to lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic is also discussed.

Graphical abstract: Introductory lecture: air quality in megacities

Back to tab navigation

Associated articles

Article information

22 Oct 2020
28 Oct 2020
First published
30 Oct 2020

This article is Open Access

Faraday Discuss., 2021,226, 9-52
Article type

Introductory lecture: air quality in megacities

L. T. Molina, Faraday Discuss., 2021, 226, 9 DOI: 10.1039/D0FD00123F

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications, without requesting further permission from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given and it is not used for commercial purposes.

To request permission to reproduce material from this article in a commercial publication, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party commercial publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity

Search articles by author