Monday Aug 8, 2022
Monday Aug 8, 2022

Alarming levels of air pollution remain consistent in Kathmandu

With the large amount of air pollutants accumulated in the valley’s atmosphere, the residents of Kathmandu Valley are now deprived of breathing healthy air.

2022 Mar 20, 7:07, Kathmandu

Air, the ever present invisible entity that surrounds everything around us holds an utmost importance to our sustenance. It is unimaginable to imagine the existence of the ecosystem without it. Yet, it is becoming increasingly hazardous in Kathmandu, with the amount of harmful elements it now embodies in itself.

Kathmandu’s air quality index (AQI), which is an indicator that tells how clean or polluted the air in the city is, alternates between unhealthy for sensitive groups (people with respiratory ailments) and unhealthy for all people. The amount of air pollutants present in the valley’s air is often multiple times higher than what the World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes as healthy. This endangers the health of valley residents immensely.

“Air pollution is one of the major problems of Kathmandu; it is now among the most polluted cities in South Asia. As a result, health problems related to respiration are increasing at an exponential level,” says Pulmonologist Niraj Bam of the Institute of Medicine, Teaching Hospital.

Swift urbanization, growing number of vehicles in the city, road infrastructure projects producing dust, and brick kilns in operation in the city are contributing factors to the city’s air pollution. Besides, the geographical positioning of the Kathmandu valley also serves as a bowl accumulating pollutants in its atmosphere instead of allowing it to disperse elsewhere.

Depleting air quality is a serious risk to people suffering with certain health conditions, like lung and heart diseases as well as cancer, but it also invites new diseases. Breathing polluted air has far reaching consequences not just to the respiratory system, but all over the body, in some cases it even causes infertility in men and in women.

“What I now see is an increase in the number of patients who are non-smokers getting diagnosed with lung cancer,” says Doctor Bam. To avoid falling prey to the polluted air, it is advised to wear a mask when outdoors, and close windows to avoid unhealthy air from entering into the buildings.

In addition to public health risk, the air condition of the valley also hampers sustainable development. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It is evident from the definition that compromising on air quality today clearly devastates the need of the upcoming generations to fulfil their primary need of maintaining a sound health, achievable through non hazardous and clean breathing air.

“Developed countries have now realized the importance of controlling air pollution levels, and are making efforts to invest in a healthier future. Unfortunately it is not yet the case in Nepal; the government needs to keep environmental concerns in its top priority list as well” says Doctor Bam.


Air pollution health diseases Kathmandu Valley Respiration AQI
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