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4 Oct 2019 | News

Building air quality monitoring skills within the HKH to ensure reliable data generation

Rising emissions of air pollutants from urban, industrial, and rural sources have affected the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region over recent decades. This raises concerns about deteriorating air quality, impacts on health and visibility, changes in atmospheric heating and cooling, as well as changes in cloud microphysics and monsoon strength and timing. Moreover, particulate pollution is increasing above the Tibetan Plateau, light-absorbing substances are being deposited onto snow and ice surfaces, and there is accelerated melting of the Himalayan cryosphere.

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Scientific evidence of atmospheric changes is crucial to inform governments, policy makers, and other stakeholders. (Photo: Arbindra Khadka/ICIMOD)

ICIMOD’s Atmosphere Initiative together with government counterparts (the Department of Environment in Nepal and the National Environment Commission in Bhutan) captures crucial scientific evidence of these processes, enabling governments, policy makers, and other stakeholders to take action based on the generated knowledge.

Over 24 state-of-the-art air quality stations with particulate matter measurement instruments now generate and relay vital information in the mountains of Nepal and Bhutan. The Grimm Environment Dust Monitor model 180 is a primary source of information, measuring PM10, PM2.5, PM1, and total suspended particles. The instruments require regular servicing and calibration to ensure the highest quality of data, necessitating periodic shipments back to Germany.

To establish a cost-effective modality and build capacities of country partners to operate, troubleshoot, and calibrate the instruments on-site, ICIMOD conducted a five-day workshop on environment dust monitoring instrument operation and maintenance in Lalitpur, Nepal, from 16 to 20 September 2019. Ten participants from the government counterparts institutions involved in air quality monitoring in Nepal and Bhutan are now trained on instrument working principles, daily operational aspects, maintenance, and calibration and case-wise troubleshooting of mechanical aspects as well as data reading. A technician from the original manufacturers conducted hands-on training with the actual equipment.
Arnico Panday, Regional Programme Manager – Atmosphere Programme, ICIMOD, reiterated the need to build skills within the HKH to operate the instruments properly, and to ensure that they run flawlessly so that reliable data can be relayed to policy makers and the public. ICIMOD envisions future trainings based on learnings from this workshop on other air quality parameters such as particulate matter, black carbon, and trace gases.

1. The workshop on environment dust monitoring instrument operation and maintenance build skills of participants from Nepal and Bhutan in handling the Grimm Environment Dust Monitor model 180, which measures particular matters (Photo: Sagar Adhikari/ICIMOD)

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