Monitoring Air Quality in Sri Lanka

Project Details

With the increasing volume of motor vehicles, air quality is a major issue in Sri Lanka. Under a collaborative arrangement between the organizations listed below, ten State-of-the-art low-cost KOALA (Knowing Our Ambient, Local Air) monitors were installed in Sri Lanka in 2019. For more information about the KOALAs and how they operate. Two of these monitors were installed in the capital city, Colombo, and the other eight in the second largest city of Kandy. Preliminary data have indicated that the PM and CO pollution levels in these cities are about 3-4 times higher than in Australian cities.

The Covid-19 restrictions provided an ideal situation to assess the impact of human activities on the air quality in Sri Lanka as a nation-wide curfew was in place since 20 March 2020. The accompanying charts show the hourly average PM2.5 and CO concentrations in Colombo between the 9th February and 15th April. We see that the 24-hour average PM2.5 and CO levels in Colombo dropped by 34% and 49%, respectively. The corresponding decreases in Kandy were 25% and 36%, respectively. These results give a good idea of how much of the air pollution in the two cities are produced by human activities.

Our Team

Project Leader:

 Chief Investigators:

  • Rohan Jayaratne, ILAQH, QUT
  • Bryce Christensen, ILAQH, QUT
  • Gayan Bowatte, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  • Mahesh Senarathna, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Partner Organisations

  • Queensland University of Technology
  • National Institute of Fundamental Studies, Kandy, Sri Lanka
  • University of Peradeniya, Kandsy, Sri Lanka
  • Centre for Air pollution energy and health Research (CAR), Australia
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Sri Lanka
  • Mobitel, Sri Lanka
Hourly average PM2.5 concentration in Colombo between Feb and Apr 2020, showing the effect of the curfew.
Hourly average Carbon Monoxide concentration in Colombo between Feb and Apr 2020, showing the effect of the curfew.