#BreatheFree

A social media survey reveals the true extent of the health impact of Kathmandu’s deteriorating air quality

With winter approaching, Kathmandu Valley’s air pollution gets worse as the inversion layer traps dust and vehicle emissions. The mountains disappear, flights are delayed and city-dwellers develop persistent coughs.

It didn’t use to be like this. Winter was the time of deep blue skies and dazzlingly clear views of the Himalayan peaks to the north. This year, Kathmandu did not even have to wait for winter for the air pollution to become hazardous thanks to a combination of smoke from crop residue burning in the Indian plains, and dust from Kathmandu’s earthquake reconstruction and never-ending road-widening project.

What is most alarming is the looming health catastrophe triggered by this perpetual pollution. Hospitals report a surge in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and even lung cancer.​

An online survey by Code For Nepal, #BreatheFreely, sheds light on the negative consequences of breathing this toxic air. Not surprisingly, most of the responses were from Kathmandu Valley.

© 2017 Ayesha Shakya