How’s the Air in Nepal?

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A user on Quora asked recently how bad the air pollution in Nepal is. Nepal has glorious mountains and shining temples. But how is the air?

I checked the World Health Organization’s global PM2.5 database. According to that database, Kathmandu’s PM2.5 particulate pollution averaged 49 micrograms/m3 in 2013:

 

nepal

 

That’s just about double the WHO’s 24-hour limit of 25 micrograms. That means, on average, the air has dangerous levels of tiny particles. I’d guess winter heating brings along days that are easily 5 times that high or more.

 

How Does Kathmandu Compare to Other Major Cities?

Forty-nine micrograms is pretty bad, but Kathmandu is lower than Delhi and Beijing:

 

 

Yet “better than Delhi” isn’t much of a prize. Kathmandu is still far from the levels of US cities like New York, which made it just under the WHO’s stricter annual limit.

Bottom line: Kathmandu’s air pollution isn’t the worst in the neighborhood, but it is far above safe limits.

If I lived in Kathmandu, I’d watch the AQI from the US Embassy, carry a mask, and purify my air at home.

Breathe Safe in Nepal 

Based on this data, and after getting emails from air-breathers-in-need in Nepal, I decided to set up Smart Air Nepal with the help of Shishir, a dedicated local. We’re shipping the Original DIY, Cannon, HEPA filters, and carbon filters in Nepal.

Breathe safe, Nepal!

Thomas Talhelm

Thomas is a new Assistant Professor of Behavior Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the founder of Smart Air, a social enterprise to help people in China breathe clean air without shelling out thousands of dollars for expensive purifiers.

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