Sri Lanka Air Quality Index (AQI) and Air Pollution Information | IQAir (2023)

What is the air quality forecast for Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and was formerly known as Ceylon when it was under British rule. It is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of India. Colombo is the largest city and commercial center. In 2019, the population was estimated at almost 22 million people.

According to IQAir data, Sri Lanka presented a "moderate" air cleanliness figure in 2019, with an American AQI figure of 78. The annual average concentration of the pollutant PM2.5 was 25.2 µg/m³. This is according to the proposals of the World Health Organization (WHO). For the month of August, the quality was marked as "good" with a figure between 10 and 12 µg/m³. For January, February and March. The figure was "unhealthy for sensitive groups" with figures between 35.5 and 55.4 µg/m³. For the other months the figures were "moderate" with measurements between 12.1 and 35.4 µg/m³.

The average figure for 2019 of 25.2 µg/m³ is an improvement over last year (32 µg/m³). Globally, Sri Lanka ranked 25thedirtiest country since 98

How bad is the air pollution in Sri Lanka?

According to recently released data, air pollution has increased in most parts of the country except the south, including Colombo, Kandy, Puttalam, Vavuniya and Jaffna. As the impact of COVID-19 increased in Sri Lanka, several restrictions were imposed there. As a result, environmentalists say the current increase in air pollution is a cause for concern, even though air pollution levels should have been reduced as traffic decreased. The report said that air pollution in the country may have increased due to the prevailing windy weather in the areas around Sri Lanka. It is also stated that due to high air pollution in India, there is a possibility of air pollution in the border areas of Sri Lanka.

What are the main causes of air pollution in Sri Lanka?

Air quality in Sri Lanka is affected by vehicle emissions, burning of organic waste, agricultural by-products and oil refining. Available data show that Colombo is often exposed to high levels of air pollution.

As in many Asian countries, vehicle emissions are a problem as most vehicles are old and do not meet current emission control regulations. Although there is a public transport system, most people like the independence of using their own vehicle for their daily commute. The island also has a 1,500-kilometer railway system and three deep-water ports. The fourth was built in Hambantota.

What can be done to improve air quality in Sri Lanka?

Air pollution from indoor and outdoor sources is a major environmental health problem affecting millions of people worldwide, both in developed and developing countries. Although there are many chemicals and other substances floating in the air, microscopic particles known as PM2.5 are the most dangerous. Other substances used as reference points are: ground-level ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and lead (Pb). These are environmental pollutants that are found outdoors. Indoor pollutants can vary slightly and include: environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), formaldehyde and polycyclic organic compounds.

Which city in Sri Lanka had the lowest level of air pollution?

According to 2019 data, Kandy, located in the central highlands, was the cleanest city in Sri Lanka. It is located among the hills of the Kandy Plateau which are mostly covered with tea bushes as Kandy is the main tea growing area of ​​Sri Lanka. The average reading in 2019 was 69 US AQI, unlike Colombo which had the worst reading of 78 US AQI, so you can see that there is not much difference between the two cities.

There is a public transport system here which mainly relies on buses. The main station is located next to the railway, which makes it very convenient for travel. The multimodal transport terminal in Kandy handles about 2,000 buses a day and another 3,000 on their way to other places. It is estimated that there are almost 320,000 of them per day.

What does the future hold for air quality in Sri Lanka?

The government has taken a number of important measures. In 2000, the National Policy on Air Quality Control in Cities was introduced. Leaded petrol was banned in June 2002, the introduction of low-sulphur diesel was introduced in January 2003, and in 2008 the import of two-stroke tricycles was completely banned. In 2008, a center for testing emissions from vehicles was established.

Permissible air quality levels for selected air pollutants were first established under the National Environment (Ambient Air Quality) Regulations 1994. With the publication of the World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines in 2005, air quality standards for Sri Lanka, including standards for PM10 and PM2.5, were amended and entered into force in August 2008.

Despite many requests, Colombo still has only 1 ground tracking station, at the fort. Based on data from this station, average annual PM10 levels in Colombo have remained relatively stable over the years, ranging from 72 to 82 µg/m³. WHO recommends that this figure be less than 20 µg/m³. From 2003 to 2005, it was decided to compare pollution levels in Sri Lanka with levels elsewhere in other Asian countries in a similar situation to Colombo. The results showed that Colombo is unhealthier than cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei and Tokyo.

Very high levels of pollutants have been found during the northeast monsoon period, which can last from November to January. Compared to other pollutants, carbon monoxide and ozone are relatively low. Much criticism has been directed at the accuracy of the data due to the location of the fort. It is only half a mile from the ocean and as such "loses" some of the particles due to the prevailing winds. It is believed that a more accurate figure can be achieved by installing a few more measuring stations or even moving the existing one to a more suitable location. Newly established factories are built together with power plants, but they are several kilometers apart and therefore not measured.

How bad is the indoor air quality in Sri Lanka?

Internal exposure results from complex interactions between the structure of building systems, internal source strength, rates of removal and deposition within the structure, internal mixing and chemical reactions between chemicals, furnishings, the external environment and occupant habits and behaviour. When the windows and doors are closed, they are trapped inside and cannot escape. Sri Lanka is classified as a tropical country and as such is said to have a good ventilation system. However, if we look at the available figures, we see that indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air.

Cooking fuel is a major source of indoor pollution because the fuel is cheap and usually readily available. Tobacco smoke and smoke from other sources together create a toxic environment. According to research data, firewood is used by up to 79 percent of households and it is unlikely that this will change in the near future. Most traditional stoves use firewood as the main source of energy, which does not burn completely, resulting in the release of very high levels of pollutants into the atmosphere. In many households, measurements are made at randomly found values ​​above 1200 µg/m³. Perhaps the worst group of people to be affected by this are women and children who tend to stay with mom while she cooks. A cross-sectional study conducted for the determination of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) indoor and outdoor levels of 30 households in five different locations in Colombo reported that indoor pollutant levels in these low-income homes were higher than outdoor levels in all cases.

In this study, parents kept a daily activity diary for their 5- to 8-year-old children, which showed that these children spent an average of 41 hours (out of 48 hours) at home on weekends.

The regular use of mosquito coils, used by more than 10 percent of all households, contributes to the toxic mixture of indoor air.

Although it is prohibited in public places, smoking is still practiced in private homes. Although the number of adults who smoke regularly has decreased, it is estimated that more than a third of adults still smoke at home.

What could be the effects of breathing poor air quality in Sri Lanka?

Air pollution in Colombo was at a moderate level of 26 at the end of 2020. This moderate level ranges from 12.1 to 35.4 µg/m³. It is predicted to be almost an acceptable level. However, it can cause health problems for those who are internally sensitive to air pollution. At the same time, active children and the elderly, as well as people with respiratory diseases, especially asthmatics, should take additional precautions. Wearing a good quality face mask is useful and avoiding heavily polluted areas.

The current moderate level of air pollution is expected until the end of the year.

The most dangerous type of pollutant in the air is PM2.5. It is so called because of its microscopic size of less than 2.5 microns. Particles of this size can easily evade the body's natural defense mechanism and easily enter the lungs, where they can travel to the base of the bronchi, where they eventually end up in the alveoli. The average adult has about 480 million of these tiny sacs. When the body inhales, they expand to take in oxygen, and when they contract to expel carbon dioxide. These minuscule structures, when viewed as a whole, make up a considerably large area. It is estimated that they would occupy an area of ​​100 square meters. This large surface area is needed to process the huge amounts of air that the body takes in every minute. An average pair of lungs of an adult takes in between 5 and 8 liters of air per minute.

These small bags are very effective, but can be quickly damaged by foreign objects such as PM2.5. They also deteriorate due to cigarette smoking, the natural aging process and air pollution.

What effects does air pollution have on the environment?

Air pollution has a major impact on the evolutionary process of plants by inhibiting photosynthesis through dust deposits on leaves, in many cases with serious consequences for purifying the air we breathe. It also contributes to the formation of acid rain, atmospheric precipitation in the form of rain, frost, snow or fog, which is released by the burning of fossil fuels and converted in contact with water and other chemicals in the atmosphere. Air pollution is also a major cause of global warming and climate change. The huge amount of carbon dioxide in the air is one of the main causes of greenhouse gases.

The answer to its reduction is moving away from dependence on fossil fuels and switching to more environmentally friendly ways of energy production. Think solar power, wind power and hydropower. Energy saving and efficiency also play an important role.

Switching to electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles helps, as does car sharing with others. Modern GPS technology makes it easy to connect with others on the way to where you need to be.

From the planning stage to demolition, green buildings can contribute to the air quality of our cities in many ways. Now there is even a type of paint that reduces air pollution. There is also a type of concrete that does something similar.

What will happen to the container ship that caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka?

In late May 2021, Sri Lanka was hit by an environmental disaster when the Singapore-registered container ship MV 'X-Press Pearl' caught fire and sank 18 kilometers off the coast of Colombo. The cargo consisting of chemicals and raw materials for the cosmetic industry is of greatest concern. It also transported about 25 tons of nitric acid and 325 tons of fuel oil on board. There are almost 1,500 containers on board, many of which are filled with dangerous chemicals.

There are fears that due to the rainy season and high nitrogen dioxide emissions, acid rain could be a problem along the neighboring coast. Residents are already being warned and advised not to get wet due to the rain that will follow.

The fire has reportedly been brought under control, which must be a small relief as it was once feared that it would split in half and sink, dumping its toxic cargo into the ocean. As the fire spread to her aft deck where the bridge is located, several containers were thrown overboard and sank.

Fortunately, all 25 crew members were evacuated, and only two required minor hospital treatment for leg injuries. Due to COVID-19, they are currently in quarantine as a precaution.

What kind of pollution can be expected from a container ship stranded near the coast of Sri Lanka?

The fire broke many shipping containers and threw their contents into the sea. The sheen that can be seen on the water around the barrel is due to the plastic that was burned during the fire. It was established that it is not heating oil. Even if it is a pollutant in itself, it is not as catastrophic as a ship leaking fuel.

There is a total ban on all fishing activities in the area and an extensive clean-up operation has been launched along the once pristine beaches. All pieces of plastic large enough to handle are collected from the shore. Of greatest concern are the microscopic pieces that enter the food chain through aquatic marine life.

There is a lot of microplastic in the sea, and some of that microplastic is even absorbed by the zooplankton that lives there. We are also concerned that this will eventually find its way up the food chain into food intended for human consumption.


What is the air quality index in Sri Lanka? ›

According to the data present on IQAir, Sri Lanka presented with a “Moderate” figure for aircleanliness in 2019, with a US AQI figure of 78. The average annualconcentration of the pollutant PM2. 5 was 25.2 µg/m³. This is according to suggestions from theWorld Health Organisation (WHO).

What is AQI score in air quality index? ›

Think of the AQI as a yardstick that runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 or below represents good air quality, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality.

What is the air quality index AQI and why is it important? ›

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.

What is the environmental pollution in Sri Lanka? ›

According to World Health Organization guidelines, Sri Lanka's air quality is moderately unsafe; the most recent data show the country's annual mean concentration of PM2. 5 is 11 g/m3, exceeding the recommended maximum of 10 g/m3.

What is Sri Lanka in climate risk index? ›

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, landslides and cyclones are ranking Sri Lanka amongst the top 10 countries on the Global Climate Risk Index (2018-2020). Climate change is posing an ever-increasing threat to people's livelihood and safety.

What are the challenges Sri Lanka faces in terms of air pollution? ›

Air pollution is a problem in Sri Lanka's cities and it is mostly caused by vehicles. The number of motor vehicles almost tripled during the 1990s which also led to an increase in traffic jams. The use of old vehicles and poor quality gas intensify negative consequences.

What to do if AQI is high? ›

Avoid outdoor activities

Consider eliminating outdoor activities altogether when the AQI reaches unhealthy levels. Officials may call for an evacuation in emergency situations or when the AQI reaches the hazardous level. Always follow evacuation orders.

How do you calculate AQI? ›

24-hourly average concentration value (8-hourly in case of CO and O3) and health breakpoint concentration range. The worst sub-index is the AQI for that location. calculated only if data are available for minimum three pollutants out of which one should necessarily be either PM2.

Who has the worst air quality in the world? ›

What country has the worst air quality?
#country2022 AVG. US AQI
6 more rows
3 days ago

What are the benefits of AQI? ›

It tells you how unhealthy the ambient air is and how polluted it can become in the near future. AQI also educates you on what associated health effects might be of concern. It primarily focuses on the adverse health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing unhealthy air.

What causes poor air quality? ›

Vehicle emissions, fuel oils and natural gas to heat homes, by-products of manufacturing and power generation, particularly coal-fueled power plants, and fumes from chemical production are the primary sources of human-made air pollution.

How important is good air quality? ›

Breathing clean air can lessen the possibility of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer as well as chronic and acute respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Lower levels of air pollution are better for heart and respiratory health both long- and short-term.

What is the main problem in Sri Lanka? ›

A UN report in September 2022 highlighted that impunity of Sri Lankan officials for human rights violations and economic crimes in the country are reasons of its economic crisis. Sri Lanka ranks 102 in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

What causes pollution in Sri Lanka? ›

Overfishing and insufficient waste management, especially in rural areas, leads to environmental pollution. Sri Lanka is also vulnerable to climate change impacts such as extreme weather events and sea level rise.

How to reduce air pollution in Sri Lanka? ›

The phasing out of leaded gasoline in June 2002, introduction of low sulphur diesel in January 2003, banning the importation of Two Stroke Three-wheelers in 2008, and initiation of vehicular emission testing programme in year 2008 are some key steps that have been taken to control urban outdoor air pollution in Sri ...

How is Sri Lanka affected by climate change? ›

Every trip back to Sri Lanka, climate change impacts become more visible. Over handfuls of rice that nearly 30% of the country is struggling to afford, talk of flash floods, prolonged drought, sea level rise and extreme weather dominated more than ever before.

What are the factors affecting climate of Sri Lanka? ›

The most important factor affecting temperature variations within Sri Lanka is altitude, with considerably low temperatures experienced in its south-central mountain ranges. Sri Lanka's precipitation regime is divided into three zones: the wet zone, intermediate zone, and dry zone.

Why is Sri Lanka affected by climate change? ›

According to scientists this is due to the increase in the greenhouse gasses (global) as well as the rapid urbanization causing the heat effect (local). The mean annual temperature in the country is expected to increase in the near future (2030), and to possibly increase even more in the years surrounding 2050.

What are 3 major concerns about air pollution? ›

Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in both cities and rural areas is causing fine particulate matter which result in strokes, heart diseases, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases.

What are 3 problems caused by air pollution? ›

Long-term health effects from air pollution include heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people's nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.

What is a major environmental concern for the people in Sri Lanka? ›

Deforestation has been identified as one of the most pressing environmental problems of Sri Lanka. Deforestation has increased soil erosion, landslides, floods, fauna and flora degradation, and damage to human lives and properties.

What is the air quality in Colombo Sri Lanka today? ›


The air quality is generally acceptable for most individuals. However, sensitive groups may experience minor to moderate symptoms from long-term exposure.

Which country has the best air quality index? ›

Which is the cleanest country in the world?
#country2022 AVG. US AQI
2French Polynesia10
3U.S. Virgin Islands12
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Jun 10, 2023

Where is the highest quality air in the world? ›

Cleanest air in the world in 2022

The cleanest air in the world is in Zurich. The pollution status is determined on the basis of average levels of PM2.5 measured over a period of 12 months. And this Swiss city obtained an annual value of 0.51 µg / m3, which makes it the lowest in the world.

Which country has the best air index? ›

Australia topped the list as the least polluted country in the world, with 7 cities in the top 25. Of the 25 least polluted cities in the world with the best air quality, Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia) dominated the rankings with some of the cleanest air in the world in 2022.


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