Susceptibility to Exposure from Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Human Health Burden in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

EPA Grant Number: F13D10723
Title: Susceptibility to Exposure from Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Human Health Burden in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Investigators: Gurung, Anobha
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 27, 2014 through August 27, 2016
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Public Health Sciences , Academic Fellowships


This research will investigate exposure to traffic-related air pollution and human health burden with characterization of susceptibility factors (e.g., age) in urban areas of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, one of the fastest urbanizing nations in South Asia. It will identify important social and environmental variables, as well as explore methodologies suitable for understanding exposure and health in growing Asian cities like Kathmandu.


Long-term data have been collected from six major hospitals: ambient particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 µm (PM10), weather, and demographic information from the 2010 Census. These data will be analyzed to understand the association between PM10 exposure and the risk of cause-specific hospital admissions. Population vulnerability based on age, gender, home location, and socioeconomic status to hospitalization from PM10 will be identified. A land use regression model will help understand traffic exposure for urban residents in Kathmandu Valley. To develop the model, four NO2 sampling campaigns for each season will be conducted at 135 sites, in addition to meteorological and environmental (e.g., land use, road network) data collection. The traffic exposure model developed will be used to determine exposure for school children and for the general population, as well to highlight issues of environmental injustice.

Expected Results:

The association between short-term PM10 exposure and the risk of causespecific hospital admissions will be determined for Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, with characterization of susceptibility factors (e.g., age, home location). A map of annual average NO2 exposure will be created for urban areas in Kathmandu Valley. The proportion of the total population and school children exposed to high traffic-related air pollution and associated neighborhood features will be determined. Resulting maps will showcase issues of environmental injustice. Important variables, methods for exploring exposure to traffic-related air pollution in places like Kathmandu and ways a model developed in Western cities can be applied to growing cities in Asia will be identified.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

Spatiotemporal traffic exposure patterns and factors linked with high exposure are critical for future epidemiological studies, and for developing policy related to land use, road design, air pollution control and human health protection. This study highlights issues of environmental justice and susceptibility, helping to define high-risk groups, suggesting strategies for effective human health protection. Based in a developing country, one with a different socioeconomic status and environmental background than the United States, this study also strengthens the scientific evidence describing the complex relationship among traffic exposure, human health and social factors. Overall, the study is policy relevant, increases awareness, encourages future work and contributes to well-informed decisions to protect environment and human health.

Supplemental Keywords:

air pollution, exposure, health

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015
  • Final