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Pollutant levels increasing in the Kathmandu Valley
The fringe areas of the valley like Matsyagaon, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur, which had witnessed almost no air pollution some times during the monsoon this year, have started to experience worsening air quality.

KATHMANDU, Nov 19 - With the mercury going down gradually, the quality of air in Putalisadak, Patan and Thamel areas has reached to an unhealthy level.

Similarly, the fringe areas of the valley like Matsyagaon, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur, which had witnessed almost no air pollution some times during the monsoon this year, have started to experience worsening air quality. The air quality monitoring stations set-up at the places are showing the level of fine dust particles in the air gradually going up.

"It is due to the growing cold and lack of rain in the valley that there is an increase of fine dust particles in air," said Chiranjivi Gautam, an environmentalist involved in the air quality monitoring at the Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE).

According to an air quality monitoring result published here today by the MoPE, Putalisadak, Patan and Thamel areas witnessed air pollution level resulting from fine solid dust particles, known as PM10, well above the national air quality standard in the last week (Nov 9 to 15). The standard for PM10, the most threatening solid pollutant to the valley air, is 120 microgram per cubic meter. Anything exceeding the standard is considered harmful to health.

The level of PM10 in the Putalisadak area was an average of 185 microgram per cubic meter last week, whereas the air in the Patan area contained an average of 166 microgram per cubic meter of PM10 during the period. The measurements of pollutant at these places with heavy traffic show a large increase. Similarly, the air quality monitoring station at the Thamel area, which has a residential background, showed the air containing an average of 169 microgram per cubic meter of PM10 in the week.

The places had PM10 crossing the national standard for six consecutive days, which means the air quality deteriorated to a hazardous level. The national standard for the pollutant does not allow PM10 crossing the national standard more than two consecutive days, and crossing the standard for more than two consecutive days is considered the air quality reached at a hazardous level.

Even at the end of October the level of PM10 at the Putalisadak and Patan areas were a little above the national standard whereas the Thamel area had witnessed the level of pollutant well bellow the national standard. The pollutant level at the Thamel area was an average of 93 microgram per cubic meter in he last week of October.

Kirtipur, Bhaktapur and Matsyagaon, which are fringe areas of the Kathmandu valley, that had witnessed almost no air pollution at some times during the monsoon this year, have now air contaminated by growing PM10 level. Kirtipur, Bhaktapur and Matsyagaon had experienced the level of PM10 at averages of 40, 64 and 27 microgram per cubic meter respectively in the last week of October. But the places have now PM10 at averages of 75, 98 and 49 microgram per cubic meter in the last week.

PM10, which remains suspended for a long period in the air, is very hazardous to human health. A number of diseases are linked to the pollutant. Hospital studies have shown growing impact of the pollutant on the health of the valley dwellers. Long exposure to the pollutant is considered lethal to patients of asthma and to children.

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