Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ran Tao, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yasin Elshorbany, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Connie Mizak, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ruiliang Pu, Ph.D.


Air pollution, Climate Change Mitigation, Himalayas, Public Health, South Asia


Air pollution is a global concern. Cities around the world fail to meet air quality standards set by the World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines, which has a significant impact on public health. As the capital city and largest metropolitan region of Nepal, Kathmandu is a hotspot for urban pollution in South Asia. Nepal faces emissions from both internal and external sources. External sources include emissions from Nepal’s neighboring countries of India and China and emissions resulting from tourism. Internal sources of pollution in the country include brick and cement factories, consumption of energy from traditional sources such as biomass, smoke from forest fires and slash and burn agriculture, vehicular emissions, and industrial pollutants. Nepal experienced temporary improvements as a result of the initial COVID-19 lockdown periods from March- September 2020 and April 2021- September 2021. A reduction in particulate matter (PM) resulted in greater visibility within the valley and health benefits including reduced hospitalizations among those with chronic respiratory conditions.

Nepal’s residents have expressed greater concern regarding air pollution in their cities in recent years, which can be seen through recent protests, media articles, and posts made through social media. The COVID-19 lockdown period in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal was very strict in nature with measures such as mandatory curfews, policies restricting vehicles on the roads and public transportation, limitations posed on public festival celebrations, and heightened presence of police force in public spaces to maintain compliance. Individuals within Kathmandu Valley were negatively impacted by the lockdown in various ways, but improved air quality is one of the few favorable outcomes. It is not known whether Kathmandu’s residents are aware of the benefit of reduced air pollution and whether their perception of air quality has changed in the long term. This thesis explores the perceptions and awareness of occupants of Kathmandu Valley regarding the outdoor air quality of their surrounding environment, and how COVID-19 has affected these perceptions through the administration of a systematic survey and completion of a literature review.

My hypothesis was that residents of Kathmandu Valley are aware of and concerned about air quality and have noticed the short-term improvements in air quality which resulted from the COVID-19 lockdown period. Furthermore, it was expected that survey respondents would support greater regulations of air quality, express greater concern over visible pollutants such as PM rather than non-visible pollutants such as NOx and SOx, and that the halo effect through which individuals perceive their neighborhoods to be less polluted than the other areas of the city, identified in previous studies, would be present here. Respondents were generally aware of air quality improvements during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Additionally, respondents did support the adoption of more stringent regulations for air quality, and the majority of respondents indicated that the government of Nepal should be responsible for taking actions to improve air quality. Furthermore, most respondents indicated that they believe that the air quality will continue to worsen over the next 10 years, and most believed that the main sources of pollution in the Valley are automobile traffic and cement and brick factories, which is consistent with the literature. Although, there was unsubstantial evidence of the halo effect occurring at the regional scale.