Wintertime Air Quality across the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: Concentration, Composition, and Sources of Fine and Coarse Particulate Matter

Md Robiul Islam, Tianyi Li, Khadak Mahata, Nita Khanal, Benjamin Werden, Michael R. Giordano, Siva Praveen Puppala, Narayan Babu Dhital, Anobha Gurung, Eri Saikawa, Arnico K. Panday, Robert J. Yokelson, Peter F. Decarlo, Elizabeth A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Kathmandu Valley in Nepal experiences poor air quality, especially in the dry winter season. In this study, we investigated the concentration, chemical composition, and sources of fine and coarse particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10, and PM10-2.5) at three sites within or near the Kathmandu Valley during the winter of 2018 as part of the second Nepal Ambient Monitoring and Source Testing Experiment (NAMaSTE 2). Daily PM2.5 concentrations were very high throughout the study period, ranging 72-149 μg m-3 at the urban Ratnapark site in Kathmandu, 88-161 μg m-3 at the suburban Lalitpur site, and 40-74 μg m-3 at rural Dhulikhel on the eastern rim of the Kathmandu Valley. Meanwhile, PM10 ranged 194-309, 174-377, and 64-131 μg m-3, respectively. At the Ratnapark site, crustal materials from resuspended soil contributed an average of 11% of PM2.5 and 34% of PM10. PM2.5 was largely comprised of organic carbon (OC, 28-30% by mass) and elemental carbon (EC, 10-14% by mass). As determined by chemical mass balance source apportionment modeling, major PM2.5 OC sources were garbage burning (15-21%), biomass burning (10-17%), and fossil fuel (14-26%). Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) contributions from aromatic volatile organic compounds (13-23% OC) were larger than those from isoprene (0.3-0.5%), monoterpenes (0.9-1.4%), and sesquiterpenes (3.6-4.4%). Nitro-monoaromatic compounds-of interest due to their light-absorbing properties and toxicity-indicate the presence of biomass burning-derived SOA. Knowledge of primary and secondary PM sources can facilitate air quality management in this region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2955-2971
Number of pages17
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2022


  • Nepal
  • ambient aerosol
  • molecular marker
  • secondary organic aerosol
  • source apportionment
  • waste burning


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