Air Quality Monitor

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to record air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the globe.  As part of this initiative, U.S. Embassy Kathmandu recently installed two air quality monitors (AQMs) in Kathmandu: they are located on the Embassy grounds and at the Phora Durbar Recreation Center in the Thamel area.  These AQMs collect data on two types of pollution: ozone (O3) and small, airborne particulate matter (2.5 microns and less, referred to as “PM 2.5”).  The collected data is converted into a color-coded Air Quality Index (AQI) value that can help inform health-related decisions.  The AQI value is calculated based on data over a 3-12 hour period depending on the variability of concentrations.  This table illustrates the AQI values.

Air Quality Index Who Needs to be   Concerned?             What Should I Do?
Good
0-50
It’s a great day to be active outside.
Moderate
51-100
Some people who may be unusually sensitive to particle pollution.

Unusually sensitive people: Consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion. Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. These are signs to take it easier.

Everyone else: It’s a good day to be active outside.

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
101-150
Sensitive groups include people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teenagers.

Sensitive groups: Reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. It’s OK to be active outside, but take more breaks and do less intense activities. Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath.

People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and keep quick relief medicine handy.

If you have heart disease: Symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, or unusual fatigue may indicate a serious problem. If you have any of these, contact your heath care provider.

Unhealthy
151 to 200
Everyone

Sensitive groups: Avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Move activities indoors or reschedule to a time when the air quality is better.

Everyone else: Reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. Take more breaks during all outdoor activities.

Very Unhealthy
201-300
Everyone

Sensitive groups: Avoid all physical activity outdoors. Move activities indoors or reschedule to a time when air quality is better.

Everyone else: Avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Consider moving activities indoors or rescheduling to a time when air quality is better.

Hazardous
301-500
Everyone

EveryoneAvoid all physical activity outdoors.

Sensitive groups: Remain indoors and keep activity levels low. Follow tips for keeping particle levels low indoors.

Note: Values above 500 are considered Beyond the AQI. Follow recommendations for the Hazardous category. Additional information on reducing exposure to extremely high levels of particle pollution is available here.

 

The data for the DOS AQMs in Kathmandu is available at the EPA AirNow website Kathmandu’s AQI can be observed either by clicking on the Nepal locations on the map, or by selecting “Kathmandu” or “Phora Durbar” in the “Select a City” option on the upper right part of the page.   “Kathmandu” provides information on the data from the AQM at the U.S. Embassy and “Phora Durar” provides data from the AQM at Phora Durbar.  For both locations, one can select either ozone or PM 2.5 data.  Please note that data from the two DOS AQMs cannot be applied to the whole city of Kathmandu.

The Government of Nepal (GON) also provides its own GON air quality data for various areas in Nepal.  The data displayed may not be directly comparable to AirNow data as the monitoring is at different locations and uses different equipment.  In addition, the data may be analyzed in different ways.