Air Pollution a Major Threat to Human Health in Hindu Kush Himalayas, Says ICIMOD

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Kathmandu, Sept. 8: The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has announced a clean-air campaign in the Hindu Kush Himalayas.

Announcing the campaign on Thursday on the occasion of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, Bhupesh Adhikary, Senior Air Quality Specialist at ICIMOD, said that the HKH is one of the world’s most polluted regions, with billions of people regularly breathing air that exceeds safe limits. The campaign called ‘Bringing Back Blue Skies: Our Campaign for Clean Air’ was announced to protect the HKH from increasing air pollution, ICIMOD said at a half-day outreach workshop organised by ICIMOD.

Breathing toxic air has major health consequences for people, even resulting in death, with children being particularly vulnerable, Adhikary added.

“It is not just human health that air pollution hits. It is also harmful to animals and plants. It also reduces crop yields, accelerates the loss of snow and ice in the mountains, and affects monsoon patterns and rainfall distribution across Asia, impacting water security,” stated ICIMOD.

It is crucial we come together to reverse the trend of worsening air quality in the HKH because we are all better off breathing clean air, Adhikary said.On the occasion, the ICIMOD Clean Air Prize was also announced.

According to Adhikary, the winners will receive $500, $300, and $200 each, with runners-up certified and all eligible applicants platformed on the ICIMOD website. “All you need to do is to fill out a form telling us about your project, campaign, or initiative, and its impact, and attach a video or still photographs of people working in your project and/ or project activities,” he said.

The deadline for entry is  November 20, 2023, and the winners will be announced on  December 5, 2023. Referring to a headline from the recent Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, Pema Gyamtsho, Director General at ICIMOD, said that air pollution is the greatest external threat to human life expectancy on the planet.

Gyamtsho said, “This stark warning should be enough to stimulate global action to tackle this most serious and ever-present threat. Yet there is currently no global cooperation framework or convention dedicated to tackling this ‘silent killer’.”

Source: The Rising Nepal