Air Quality TechCamp in Kathmandu

Sri Lankan Participants in TechCamp, Kathmandu


Clean Air for South Asia Techcamp in Kathmandu

The U.S. Embassy in Nepal, in partnership with Kathmandu Living Labs, organized a two-day South Asia Air Quality Tech Camp on July 30-31st.

U.S. Embassy in Nepal, in partnership with Kathmandu Living Labs, organized a two-day South Asia Air Quality TechCamp on July 30-31st, accompanied with world-class trainers and 60 participants from seven South Asian countries: Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives and Pakistan.

Sri Lankan Participants in TechCamp, Kathmandu
Sri Lankan Participants in TechCamp, Kathmandu
Photo: US Embassy Kathmandu/Flickr

The aim of the camp was to address political, social, and scientific facets of the problem and improve the ability of civil society, media, and other influencers to engage governments, empower the public and take action to improve air quality in South Asia.

US Ambassador to Nepal, H.E. Randy W. Berry

“Air pollution does not respect national boundaries,” US Ambassador to Nepal, H.E. Randy W. Berry pointed out the regional cooperation required to solve the issue of air pollution.

Photo: US Embassy Kathmandu/Flickr

Participants and trainers from 10+ countries selected topics under, What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work on air quality?

  • Reliable Data/Access to Data
  • Regulations/Enforcement of Existing Regulations
  • Proper Monitoring Systems or Collection of Data
  • Awareness/Targeting the Right Audience
  • Coordination: Among Stakeholders or Across Borders
Proper Monitoring Systems/Collection of Data – Group Discussion
Proper Monitoring Systems/Collection of Data – Group Discussion Facilitators: Neelam Azmat, Santosh Gartaula
Photo: Kathmandu Living Labs

We selected one topic with a challenge we identified in our work and dived into the first round of discussions. In Sri Lanka, we have monitoring systems based on BAM and Low-Cost Sensors. But we need to have a proper monitoring network combining the region.

Speed Geeking

We spent five minutes with each trainer in 14 small groups. The trainers shared their stories of using a particular technology/strategy to address air pollution.

Photos: Piushani Ellegala

Author: Ms Piushani Ellegala

Does Air Pollution from Norochcholai Power Plant reach the Hills and Colombo?

Does Air Pollution from Norochcholai Power Plant reach the Hills and Colombo?

The theme of Environment Day globally has been designated by UN agencies as “#BeatAirPollution” to highlight the rapidly deteriorating quality of air particularly in urban areas. FECT has been working on understanding the inter-related roles of climate and air quality and their impact on environment and society.
This video presents aspects of our Air Quality work on
  • the instrumentation in the Western Sri Lanka region between Puttalam, Kandy and Colombo districts
  • Use of Internet enabled real time pollution monitoring
  • Analysis to detect pollution characteristics
  • Modeling to assess transport of pollution

2019 w/ theme In , we find alarming rise in air pollution in Puttalam, Nawalapitiya & Colombo from using instruments of &

ඉහත වීඩියෝවේ සිංහල අනුවාදය සඳහා මෙය දිග හරින්න

වායු දූෂණය පරාජය කරමු

බොහෝ රටවල වායු ගුණාත්මකභාවය තවමත් බරපතල පරිසර තර්ජනයක් ලෙස නොසලකයි. මෙම වීඩියෝ පටයේ FECT විසින් අපගේ වායු ගුණාත්මක වැඩ පිළිබඳ සාරාංශයක් අඩංගු වන අතර එමඟින් මෙම වායු දූෂණය අපගේ නරඹන්නන්ගේ අවධානයට යොමු කිරීමට අපි බලාපොරොත්තු වෙමු.

Article on heat advisory issued by the Department of Meteorology for 14 districts in Sri Lanka in March

People told to brace themselves during warm weather


By Sheain Fernandopulle

Sri Lanka’s weather is tropical and climatically the island is divided into two monsoonal seasons which bring rain to the west and south-west coasts from May to September; and the east coast and northern region between October and February. The rest of the year is sunny and dry. Temperatures are fairly constant year round, with coastal regions enjoying average temperatures of 25-30°C and the highlands 15-18°C on average.

However, the general public has been inconvenienced owing to the hot weather being experienced in some parts of the country to a considerable degree for the past one and half weeks.

The Department of Meteorology has issued several heat weather advisories warning the people in 14 districts to be extremely cautious of the hot weather.

Vulnerable areas 

According to the heat advisory issued by the Med Department, the 14 districts that are likely to be affected are Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura, Puttalam, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Monaragala, Batticaloa, Ampara and Hambantota.

The department warned that those living in these areas should avoid venturing outside too much during the next few days, particularly in the morning hours as heat strokes, cramps and heat exhaustion were some of the after effects that could occur if precautions were not taken.

Several areas including Matale, Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Galle and Matara would also experience dry weather and residents were warned to take extra precautions when being out in the open in these areas as well.

The maximum temperature so far has been 35.4°C and was reported from the Puttalam district.

The department warned that those living in these areas should avoid venturing outside too much during the next few days

Heat Index Forecast

The Meteorology Department said that the Heat Index Forecast is calculated by using relative humidity and maximum temperature and this is the condition that is felt on the body.

This is not the forecast of maximum temperature. “lt is generated by the Department of Meteorology for the next day and is prepared by using global numerical weather prediction model data,” Met Department said.

The relative humidity of the air is the amount of water that is present in the air compared to the greatest amount it would be possible for the air to hold at that temperature.

The situation would last till May ends. Speaking to the Daily Mirror Deputy Director of the Meteorology Department and Director forecasting Anusha Warnasuriya said that the following four factors mainly caused for the prevalence of the hot weather.

  • Calm of the wind
  • Increase in humidity in low atmosphere that leads to increase sweating
  • Loss of shade with clouds in day time leads to directly fall sunlight onto the ground 
  • The wind blows from the sea.

“This situation would last till the end of May and would fully decay on the verge of South-west Monsoon,” Warnasuriya said.

She added that people living in the Northern Province and coastal areas would feel the hot the most.

Meanwhile, an official of the Meteorology Department said that a temperature exceeding 40°C might also be experienced in the future.

He said that there have been several occasions in the past where a temperature exceeding 40°C had been reported.

The relative humidity of the air is the amount of water that is present in the air compared to the greatest amount it would be possible for the air to hold at that temperature. The situation would last till May ends

Tips to beat heat related illnesses

The Department of Meteorology with the assistance of the Ministry of Health, issued a recent bulletin on precautionary measures to be taken during the warm weather. Instructions were given to increase the intake of liquids while avoiding exposure to hot sun as much as possible

Let’s follow these instructions to avoid excessive heat

  • Wear light colored, loose fitting, light weight clothes. 
  • Wear long sleeved clothes which cover the body adequately to prevent body getting from being exposed to the sun. 
  • Stay under a shade, whenever possible 
  • During outdoor activities in the day time, take following precautions. 

I . Use an umbrella
II. Wear a wide brimmed hat
III.Wear standard sunglasses
IV. Apply sun screen (SPF-Sun Protecting Factor 30 or above) at least 30 minutes before you go outdoors. According to product instructions, you may reapply whenever necessary.

  • If engaged in daily outdoor activities such as agriculture and construction related work, make sure you wear light colored, loose fitting clothing which covers your body adequately. 
  • Have a daily bath. Take a shower couple of times a day. 
  • Try to restrict outdoor activities as much as possible during day time. Try to plan these activities in early morning or during evening hours.
  • When you stay outdoors, remember to stay in the shady areas whenever possible. 
  • Discourage school children from engaging in outdoor activities when the sun is shining brightly. 
  • Don’t leave children or your pets in the parked vehicle, especially in cars even with an opened window, since cars parked outside can easily heat up and may cause heat related illnesses. 
  • Keep a basin of water near the fan indoors which will help to reduce evaporation of water from your body. 
  • Let’s follow these instructions to stay hydrated 
  • Drink plenty of fluids more than your daily usual intake. 
  • Drink fluids frequently. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. 
  • Each time you urinate, remember to rehydrate yourself by drinking water. 
  • Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks, since these causes you to lose more water from body. 
  • Be alert on the following discomforts you may get due to heat 
  • Small red colored rash look like pimples on the skin (especially around the neck, chest. groin or elbow crease) – (Heat Rash) 
  • Warm, red colored painful skin (Sun Bum) 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Muscle cramps or muscle pain 
  • Vomiting or nausea 
  • Excessive weakness or tiredness 
  • Headache 
  • Fainting attacks 

The Health Promotion Bureau has requested the general public to seek medical advice immediately if they experience these discomforts mentioned above.

High risk groups requiring special attention

  • Infants and young children 
  • People 65 years of age or older 
  • People who are overweight and obese 
  • People who are exert during work or exercise 
  • People who are physically ill (Especially who are with heart disease or high blood pressure) 

Article on World Environment Day theme for this year “Beat Air Pollution”

Beat Air Pollution


By Sujeewa Fernando

Today is the World Environment Day, which was initiated by the United Nations in 1974, to commemorate the inception of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the decision to initiate UNEP was taken at the conference on Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. in 1972.

World Environment Day encourages action for protection of the environment. This event is widely celebrated all over the world, in more than 100 counties. This is a day to draw attention of the policy makers to conserve the environment and for all others to get involved in activities related to protection of the environment, individually, locally, nationally or globally.

The Theme for this year is “Beat Air Pollution”, where air pollution has become a severe environmental concern all over the world. This year the global host country is China, a country with high air pollution, where it is expected to high light the issues in relation to the theme and support taking action to solve them. Delhi city of our neighbouring country too is a well known city with high air pollution.

It has also been found that nine out of ten people in the world are living under polluted atmospheric conditions, or breathing polluted air, where seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year due to air pollution and four million are from Asia Pacific region.

Air pollution was generally linked with respiratory and heart diseases, but now it has been found that it can cause, diabetes, dementia impaired cognative development and lower intelligence levels.

Sri Lanka emphasize on “Minimization of Air Pollution through Sustainable Forest Management” where trees absorb carbon dioxide, other pollutants and release oxygen, purifying air. Therefore by increasing the forest cover, or growing trees we can minimize air pollution. At present Sri Lanka has a forest cover of 29.7% and it is expected to increase it up to 32% by 2030. Phytoplanktons (small micro plants) in the sea too absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen.

The main event in Sri Lanka will be held at the BMICH, on June 6, under the patronage of the President and the Minister of Environment Maithripala Sirisena. An “Environment Week’ was declared from May 30 to June 5.

May 30 Day of Cleaning Environment and raising Awareness on Environment.

May 31 Day of minimizing Air Pollution and its Harmful effects

June 01 Tree Planting Day

June 02 Water and Water Sources Conservation Day

June 03 Biodiversity Conservation Day

June 04 Sustainable Land Management Day

June 05 World Environment Day

All the agencies under the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Enviornment has implemented many programmes thoughout the country through their central and regional offices to commemorate this event during the “ Enviornment Week”.

The agencies are Central Enviornmental Authority, Mahaweli Authority, Forest Department, Geological and Mines Bureau, Gem & Jewellery Authority, Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute, State Timber Corporation, Coast Conservation Department, Marine Enviornment Protection Agency, Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau. In addition the general public, private sector, Non Governmental Agencies, Community Based Organizations too has joined hands in implementing programmes.

Air pollution occurs when the air gets contaminated with physical, chemical or biological agents and becomes harmful to animals, plants and human beings. Some of the main pollutants are Particulate Matter (PM) or generally known as very small dust or other particles, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Ozone gas, Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide. Methane gas is emitted from waste dumps due to fermentation of bio degradable waste.

Air pollutants like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone are major green house gases, which causes global warming and climate change.

Biological agents like bacteria, fungi too can contaminate the air causing many diseases.

The main cause of air pollution in the country is vehicular emissions. Industrial emissions, burning of waste, accumulation of waste, (waste dumps), construction activities, spraying of chemicals, forest fires are some of the other causes of air pollution.

Indoor air pollution is somewhat a neglected area, which needs attention. The pollutants are two to five times more concentrated in indoors and as many people are living indoors for longer periods during the day, it is important that we pay our attention to improve the air quality indoors.

Cooking with firewood without proper ventilation, fumigating indoor unnecessarily, spraying low quality chemical fragrances, paints, chemicals, inadequate cleaning of dust can cause indoor air pollution. Unhealthy indoors can cause sick building syndrome, with symptoms like headaches and vomiting fatigue.

Air quality is degraded in the Colombo city due to vehicular emissions, industries and dust due to constructions. Kandy and Kurunegala are two cities surrounded by mountains and rocks respectively causing accumulation of air pollutants. Most of the major cities face air pollution issues due to traffic congestions.

Air pollution can mainly be minimized by proper maintenance of vehicles, to minimize emissions, by controlling and purifying industrial emissions, minimizing burning of waste specially plastics and polythene, which emits carcinogenic gasses, namely dioxin and furan.

Indoor air pollution can be minimized by improving ventilation in kitchens and using improved cooking stoves. Minimizing unnecessary fumigations and spraying of chemicals.

Vertical Forest gardens are introduced to improve air quality in cities, where plants/trees are grown on high rising buildings.


Sri Lankan experience of greening the buildings with growing plants.

NASA has recommended ten indoor plants which are capable of absorbing not only Carbon Dioxide but also carcinogens like, benzene, xylene and formaldehyde. Let us take action to minimize air pollution to protect the environment and human health.

The writer is an Assistant Director, Environment Pollution Control and Chemical Management Division, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment.







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