Kathmandu, August 24
The government has resumed air quality monitoring in the Kathmandu Valley by installing a station at Ratnapark seven years after previous monitoring stations were closed.
The Ratnapark-based station, which came into operation on August 9, has been continuously measuring particulate matter concentration in the air.
According to the Department of Environment, the station has been sending data regularly to the central sever since it began operation. “Finally, we have begun air quality monitoring in the Kathmandu Valley by installing a station at Ratnapark,” said Ganesh Kumar Shrestha, director general at the department.
“This is the beginning and we will install altogether 56 air quality monitoring stations throughout the country very soon.”
The data collected by the station shows very high concentration of dust particles, especially particulate matter 10 (PM 10) and PM 2.5 in the air. The station measured 188 micrograms of dust particles per cubic metre — the highest since it began operation — on August 22.
Similarly, it also measured up to 125 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic metre the same day. Nepal’s national air pollution standard is 40 micrograms per cubic meter. “The data for the last 14 days show high concentration of dust particles in the air, but the level of concentration did not remain constant.
So there is no need to worry,” Shrestha said, adding, “As that was just a preliminary data, we need further analysis to measure actual air pollution levels in the Ratnapark area and its vicinity.”
According to the department, operation of air quality monitoring stations in Dhulikhel and Lalitpur has been delayed due to technical problems. Although it takes a maximum of two or three days to operate stations after installation, the Department of Environment has not met with success despite efforts for the last one month.
According to the department, the station at Dhulikhel was installed three weeks ago but software failure and technical problems had delayed its operation. They department has yet to install a station in Patan.
The stations will monitor levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone in the atmosphere.
Although the practice of monitoring levels of air pollution began in Nepal in 2002 with the installation of seven air quality stations in the Valley by the Danish government, all stations were shut down by 2009.
After the stations were handed over to the Nepali government in 2008, the government entrusted the Environment and Public Health Organisation with managing the stations.
A misunderstanding between the government and the ENPHO led to closure of the stations in 2009.
The department is in the process of installing 56 stations throughout the country
A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.