As winter approaches, Kathmandu is doomed to breathe in polluted air as is customary.


Air pollution in Lahore and Delhi has deteriorated to the point where they have been classified as “severe” by the air quality index (AQI), and the air quality in Nepal is expected to deteriorate as a result of the migrating wind currents.



“Although Delhi may appear to be far away, air pollution in northern India has a significant impact on the air quality in Nepal. “Most significantly, if filthy air makes its way into the valleys of Nepal, they are more vulnerable,” said Shilshila Acharya, director of Avni Ventures, a waste management company in the country.

On Thursday, Lahore surpassed New York as the world’s most polluted city, as schools and offices in Delhi remain closed due to air pollution.

Starting on Thursday, the air quality in the Kathmandu Valley began to deteriorate as well, with an air quality index (AQI) rating of 152. On Friday, the AQI reading was 170 at 12:14 p.m., which is considered ‘unhealthy,’ and on Saturday, the reading was 171 at 8:45 a.m., which is also considered ‘unhealthy.’

Similarly, air quality levels in a number of other cities across Nepal are considered ‘unhealthy.’ At 10 p.m. on Saturday, the air quality index (AQI) in Biratnagar was 171, in Birgunj it was 183, in Pokhara it was 166, and in Janakpur it was 157.

It has already begun to be observed that dangerous air pollution levels are present in Biratnagar, Birgunj, and other areas that border India, to Indira Kadel, a senior meteorologist working in the Climate Division of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology.

Breaking the Indo-Gangetic ridge, burning of agricultural residue, firewood and plastic trash in India and the emission of pollutants from automobiles and factories in Nepal are all cited as the primary causes of pollution in the country by climate scientists.


Because of inversion, these pollutants that are suspended in the air condense and form a layer closer to the ground, which has a direct impact on air quality.

“Inversion occurs most frequently during the winter months. Because the particles in the air are heavier than air molecules, they form a blanket layer over the atmosphere and remain at the lowest levels possible in the atmosphere, which is the air we breathe,” explained Kadel.

Inversion is a natural winter phenomena that occurs both locally and regionally and occurs at different times of the year. to regional weather models, the Indo-Gangetic inversion created by the burning of agricultural residue in Delhi and Lahore has ruptured and made its way into the atmosphere of Nepal, where it is causing haze.

Inversions produced in the Indo-Gangetic plains–which include Punjab, Delhi, and Lahore–broke a few days ago, indicating that the inversion had ended. In Nepal, the harmful levels of air pollution in the area have made their way into the upper atmosphere layer, to Siva Praveen Puppala, Senior Aerosol Scientist at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development).

As Puppala explains, “during winter inversion, this regional inversion adds around 20-30 percent of pollutants to the already existing pollution in the valleys.”

Because of Nepal’s unique geological formations, valleys throughout the country suffer the most severe and long-lasting consequences of air pollution. The bowl-shaped form of the valleys, which are bordered by high mountains, prevents the severely polluted air from escaping through the openings.

“If the polluted air makes its way into Nepal’s valleys, it will be extremely difficult to get rid of the polluted air,” says Prativa Manandhar, a senior meteorologist with the Meteorological Forecasting Division. “If the polluted air makes its way into Nepal’s valleys, it will be extremely difficult to get rid of the polluted air.” to the UN Environment Programme, “Valleys like Pokhara, Kathmandu, and Dang are like bowls, where dirty air lingers in the atmosphere until rainfall or strong winds push it away.”


It is expected that Kathmandu’s air quality index (AQI) will remain ‘unhealthy’ between 151-200, and ‘unhealthy for sensitive populations’ (101-150 AQI) over the next week with AQI values ranging between 138-170, to an international organization that administers real-time air quality data.

Every year, air pollution during the dry season (November to June) becomes more severe. During the dry seasons between 2000 and 2015, studies conducted in the Kathmandu Valley found a 50-60 percent rise in air pollution in the valley.

Due to the lack of rain and wind, air circulation is poor throughout the winter months. In contrast to the monsoon or summer, when there is air circulation, the pollution that is produced within the valleys cannot be removed from the atmosphere during the winter months. The pollution carried by the winds from north India, in addition, worsens the already poor air quality,” Manandhar added.

Because to the decreasing air quality, reduced vision has become a common phenomenon in Nepal throughout the winter months.

The Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD) issued a 24-hour advisory on Friday, stating that haze will produce limited visibility, which may have an impact on road and air travel.

“Smog is formed by a combination of traffic emissions, the burning of firewood and plastics, factories, brick kilns, rubbish burning, road improvement, and the building industries,” Manandhar explained. “This smog reduces visibility and causes a large number of respiratory problems.”

The International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) discovered in 2017 that over 35% of diesel-powered vehicles in the Kathmandu Valley generate a visible plume of black smoke, contributing significantly to the surrounding air pollution.


The PM2.5 levels in the transportation sector are frequently found to be five times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, to data.

The air quality index (AQI) measures the concentrations of five air pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter, which includes PM2.5 and PM10), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide (among other pollutants).

The AQI level in Kathmandu Valley was 92.5 micrograms per cubic metre (g/m3) at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, to data collected at the time.

PM2.5 (particulate matter) is a term used to describe microscopic particles or droplets in the air that are two and one-half microns in width or less.

Particles of a diameter of 2.5 microns or smaller are considered harmful because they can penetrate deeply into the respiratory tract and reach the lungs. The irritation caused by such tiny particles can induce coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Exposure to such tiny particles can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

On Friday, the PM2.5 concentration in the air over Kathmandu was 18.5 times higher than the WHO’s annual air quality guideline value.

Furthermore, to another study, nearly 7 400 tons of waste is burned every year, resulting in the release of dangerous amounts of air pollutants, including 55 tonnes of PM2.5, 60 tonnes of PM10, 11,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), 5 tonnes of sulfur dioxide, and 630 tonnes of carbon monoxide, among other pollutants.


The burning of agricultural leftovers and solid trash, which includes plastics, in order to manage garbage at home has a negative impact on air quality.

Because there is no proper and timely waste management system in place and because there is no waste segregation at home, individuals resort to burning plastics and household debris as a remedy. Plastics that are burned release cancer-causing particles that are far more toxic than emissions from automobiles. People feel that by burning rubbish, they are able to handle it on a local level, but they fail to grasp the ramifications of their actions – not just to themselves, but also to the rest of society,” explains Acharya. ”

to experts who spoke with the Post, there are a variety of short-term methods to cope with the haze, ranging from implementing current regulatory measures to running big and speedy awareness campaigns.

“The most immediate remedy is to raise widespread public knowledge about the dangers of burning agricultural leftovers, firewood, and plastic garbage, particularly at this time of year,” says Acharya, a sustainability specialist. Nepal has regulations prohibiting open burning as well as policies against the use of single-use plastics. The time has come to guarantee that these current policies are enforced if we are to have access to clean air.”

The story of last year’s catastrophic levels of air pollution in Kathmandu has experts concerned that the same fate may befall the city this year.

“Our forecast for the previous year expected droughts in the winter, which turned out to be correct. Our predictions for the upcoming winter will be published in a few weeks’ time, which will give us a clearer picture of what to expect over the following winter,” adds Kadel.

The South Asia Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF), which is held once a year, prepares seasonal climate information on a regional scale that can be used to develop consistent national-level outlooks for the region.


Nepal’s national vision on climate is expected to be published by the end of the month of November, and it will serve as a for the country’s climate policy in the future months.

“While we have little influence over the migrating winds, we may issue public health warnings regarding hazardous air quality levels based on our forecasts.” According to Kadel, “the general public should be assisted institutionally, such as by encouraging people to work from home and restricting outdoor activities,” in order to better prepare for the changing weather conditions.

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