Back to news
19 Apr 2023 | Air pollution solutions

Air quality plummets in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Nepal

2 mins Read

70% Complete
Computer model simulated Carbon Monoxide concentration for 13 -15 April 2023
High concentration of Carbon Monoxide (warm reddish colour) is observed over the Kathmandu valley during 13th April and is attributed to nearby forest fires and from across the region.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is deeply concerned about the deteriorating air quality in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and parts of India. Recent data from our experts reveal hazardous levels of particulate matter (PM), posing a severe risk to human health.

In Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, PM2.5 levels exceeded 205 µg/m3 on 11 April 2023, with PM10 levels reaching a staggering 430 µg/m3 on 13 April 2023. These alarming data points highlight the urgent need for action to address this critical issue.

Please visit the link to check the air quality where you are.


Air pollution poses severe threats to human health – contributing to neonatal morbidity, stunting and learning delays in children, and with prolonged exposure linked to respiratory illnesses, heart diseases, and other health complications, especially for vulnerable populations.

“Worldwide, air pollution is responsible for more deaths annually than COVID-19 to date,” says Dr Bhupesh Adhikary, Senior Air Quality Specialist, ICIMOD. “Despite this catastrophic death toll, we aren’t tackling this invisible killer with anything like the same energy. It’s time we put efforts to improve air quality on a war footing. The good news is that we know what is causing air pollution in our region, and how to make rapid progress to reduce our exposure to pollutants. We urge Governments, donors and NGOs to work with us to build a coalition to really drive action on clean air.”

The spike in air pollution in the region is due to increase in forest fires, which are increasing in number and severity due to climate change, and residential biomass burning. As well as the impacts to human health, pollutants cause extensive damage to the region’s rich biodiversity and accelerate climate impacts.

Rising temperatures are causing glaciers in the region to melt at an alarming rate: if global warming exceeds 2°C, it will result in losing 50% of the glaciers in the region, leading to changes in river flows which can have serious consequences for freshwater biodiversity, agriculture, drinking water, and other human needs.

Black carbon or soot emitted from forest fires and burning crop residues after harvest can accelerate the melting of high mountain glaciers, further contributing to their decline.

ICIMOD works with our partners to generate both ground-based observation data and satellite/model-based data on air quality. These evidences are critical for policy formulation and implementation.

Note: Please note that the data points mentioned in this advisory are accurate as of 19 April 2023, and may change based on further updates from ICIMOD’s air pollution experts.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Neraz Tuladhar

Stay current

Stay up to date on what’s happening around the HKH with our most recent publications and find out how you can help by subscribing to our mailing list.

Sign Up
20 May 2022 Press releases
Effects of melting glaciers on food production in South Asia

Millions of farmers in South Asia depend on meltwater from the Himalayas. Melting glaciers, rainwater and groundwater allow farmers downstream ...

11 Dec 2015 Press releases
Mapping an uncertain future: Atlas of climate change and water in five crucial water basins in the Hindu Kush Himalayas

Negotiations at COP 21 are heading towards a conclusion. But no matter what the wording of the final text, there ...

27 Apr 2018 Press releases
Enhancing science-based regional cooperation through the transboundary upper Indus basin network

A two-day workshop at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu consolidated efforts to strengthen research and ...

3 Jul 2017 Himalica
Roadmap for Tourism Development of Bandarban Hill District Launched

Menon called on the private sector to join forces with the government to develop the country's tourism infrastructure around its ...

21 Jul 2015 Press releases
ICIMOD awarded humanitarian GIS award

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has been awarded a ‘Humanitarian GIS Award’ at the 2015 International User ...

31 Jan 2024 Press releases
Former Deputy Director General of ICIMOD receives India’s prestigious civilian honour

Dr Eklabya Sharma, who worked at leading centre for Hindu Kush Himalaya region for twenty years, has been awarded the ...

Air pollution research into use

ICIMOD responds to key research questions at the local to regional level, generating highly technical air pollution-related data in a ...

11 Aug 2016 Press releases
Research on adaptation and climate change in the Gandaki basin shared with key stakeholders in Nepal

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="560"] From left to right: Gehendra Gurung (Practical Action), Madhukar ...