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HEALTH IMPACT OF OUTDOOR AIR POLLUTION IN KATHMANDU: A REVIEW OF STUDIES
Rabin Man Shrestha1 and Anil K. Raut2 1Urban Environment Section, Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office 2Environment Pollution Division, EnvironmentNEPAL

ABSTRACT

Although outdoor air pollution studies have started in Kathmandu in 1980s, quantification and estimation of the health impact only started in late 1990s. The first documented health impact study was carried out by the World Bank in 1997. This study estimated health impact due to PM10 in Kathmandu along with different aspects of air quality management. The report estimated 85 cases of excess mortality and 1.5 million respiratory symptom days due to PM10. In 1998, LEADERS Nepal conducted a survey among children in Kathmandu based on the secondary data collected from Kanti Children Hospital and found out that urban residents exceeded the number of respiratory related cases compared to rural people. A study by NESS and NHRC in 2001 found out nearly 9 children of age less than five years die prematurely due to PM10 in Kathmandu. CEN in 2002 surveyed school children around brick kilns and found that the brick kilns had significant impact on the health of these children. Another study by CEN & ENPHO in September 2003 revealed that, reduction of PM2.5 level in Kathmandu by half, will result in reduction in daily mortality by 7 percent and hospital admissions by 24 percent. Study further suggested that reduction in the annual average PM10 level in Kathmandu to 50 µg/m3 will avoid over 2000 hospital admissions, 40,000 emergency room visits, 135,000 cases of acute bronchitis in children, 4,000 cases of chronic bronchitis and half a million asthma attacks. Similarly, recent study by NHRC using the Environmental Burden of Disease (EBD) approach estimated that attributable burden due to PM10 concentration in Kathmandu valley against the baseline concentration of 10 µg/m3 is 1926 cases of premature mortality per year. The studies carried out so far have many limitations and therefore the figures in some cases varied widely. One of the major limitations was the use of adopted dose-response function in all of these studies. There has not been any study so far covering the epidemiological part of health impact due to outdoor air pollution in Kathmandu. Forthcoming study should now focus on this area and fill the gap.

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