On Monday, People noticed the thick fog covering the Kathmandu Valley. Initially, people assumed it to be a fog which is quite common for winters but they could feel the sensation of eyes burning and difficulty in breathing. Soon later, the picture of Kathmandu’s Air Quality Index (AQI ) went viral on the internet. Kathmandu’s AQI hit 487 and soon topped the list in the world’s worst air quality. Kathmandu air pollution is now the worst in the world.
The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s guidelines state that AQI should be below 35. This means that the AQI of Kathmandu is 15 times higher than that of standard. Vehicle emissions, Winter inversion, firewood by local to stay warm, burning crop residue and industrial pollution has contributed Kathmandu to remain at the hazardous level for two days in a row.
The air pollution in Kathmandu puts the elderly, those with asthma, and other respiratory ailments at high-risk. With the ongoing pandemic, air pollution has a negative impact on those diagnosed with Covid 19 and makes it harder for Covid patients to recover quickly. People are urged to stay inside their homes and use masks if they have to go out.
Poor air quality in Kathmandu kills far more people than Covid 19. Every year more than 35,000 people die due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) caused by air pollution. Living in the worst air quality is likely to reduce your life expectancy by 3.7 years.
People have started showing concern for the degrading air pollution in Kathmandu while the government has turned a blind eye to this critical situation. Last year, the Cabinet had decided to adopt guidelines for air pollution to declare a health emergency if the AQI reaches over 300. This means that the government will prohibit open burning, close factories, and take steps to reduce road vehicles. But nothing has been done so far.