The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused concerns globally. To reduce the rapid transmission of the virus, strict city lockdown measures were conducted in different regions. China is the country that takes the earliest home-based quarantine for people. Although normal industrial and social activities were suspended, the spread of virus was efficiently controlled. Simultaneously, another merit of the city lockdown measure was noticed, which is the improvement of the air quality. Contamination levels of multiple atmospheric pollutants were decreased. However, in this work, 24 and 14 air fine particulate matter (PM) samples were continuously collected before and during COVID-19 city lockdown in Linfen (a typical heavy industrial city in China), and intriguingly, the unreduced concentration was found for environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) in PM after normal life suspension. The primary non-stopped coal combustion source and secondary Cu-related atmospheric reaction may have impacts on this phenomenon. The cigarette-based assessment model also indicated possible exposure risks of PM-bound EPFRs during lockdown of Linfen. This study revealed not all the contaminants in the atmosphere had an apparent concentration decrease during city lockdown, suggesting the pollutants with complicated sources and formation mechanisms, like EPFRs in PM, still should not be ignored.Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier B.V.