Pollution | Particulate matter | Life expectancy | Terai region

Image Source: ICIMOD
Image Source: ICIMOD


Air pollution shortens average life expectancy in Madhesh by six years: A study

Terai residents face the threat of six years of loss in their average life expectancy due to the extremely poor air quality while the residents of Kathmandu are also on track to lose three years on average.

By Dibyak Kapali |

A study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago led by economist Michael Greenstone — Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), which is a calculation of the impact of air pollution on life expectancy — says that Nepalis face a horrifying effect of air pollution through a significant loss in their average life span.

According to estimates, Nepal’s air pollution reduces its average life expectancy by 4.1 years while child and maternal malnutrition reduces average life expectancy by about 1.3 years, while smoking shortens life by 2.5 years on average.

The most severe air pollution concentrations are observed in Nepal’s southwestern districts, particularly those sharing borders with the highly polluted Indo-Gangetic Plain of India. 

In these regions, residents face an even more alarming situation, with potential life expectancy losses of nearly seven years due to the extremely poor air quality.

Half of Nepal’s population resides in the Outer Terai region, where the average life expectancy reduction due to air pollution exceeds 6 years.

Meanwhile, the populous capital city residents are also on track to lose 3 years on average.

The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) is a pollution index used to assess the relationship between long-term human exposure to particulate air pollution and its impact on life expectancy.

The AQLI’s life expectancy calculations are based on two peer-reviewed studies conducted in 2013 and 2017 — which found that sustained exposure to 10 μg/m3 of PM10 reduces life expectancy by 0.64 years, and 10 μg/m3 of PM2.5 reduces life expectancy by 0.98 years.

Dibyak Kapali is a Researcher and Social Media Lead at the_farsight. He is a student of Microbiology.

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