KATHMANDU, April 23: Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, is known not only for huge population density but also for hazardous levels of air pollution. Mainly due to its bowl-like structure and haphazard urbanization as well as industrial activities, the Kathmandu Valley usually reports severe air conditions, especially in the dry season.
The Valley residents breathed the world’s worst air as the air quality index (AQI) hit more than 400 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) in the first week of January and 303.89 μg/m³ on March 26. The government also closed down educational institutions across the country for four days owing to the worsening air conditions in the last week of March. This year’s air pollution was mainly triggered by widespread wildfires and absence of winter rainfall.
According to the data received from 13 pollution monitoring stations installed at various places of the Valley, the fine particulate matter (2.5) of the Valley docked at less than 35 μg/m³ until 2 PM on Friday. The cleanest air (8.09 μg/m³) was breathed in the afternoon between 1 and 2.
Followed by several rounds of rainfall triggered by the local air system and the westerly wind, the atmosphere of Kathmandu has significantly improved. Distant hills and even the mountains to the north of the Valley are clearly visible.