Scientists Say Kandy Air Pollution is a Threat to Human Health


Lead Author Lakshika WeerasundaraLead Author Lakshika WeerasundaraJoint Co-author Dr. Meththika VithanageJoint Co-author Dr. Meththika VithanageIn a research paper published in a top international scientific journal, Science of the Total Environment, a group of seven scientists have warned that that air pollution that heavy traffic congestion is causing in Kandy is a potential risk to human health. The article titled “Microorganisms and heavy metals associated with atmospheric deposition in a congested urban environment of a developing country: Sri Lanka” can be accessed on line at

The lead author, Lakshika Weerasundara, is a research scientist at the Institute of Fundamental Studies (IFS), Hantana, Kandy. Three of the other six co-authors, Meththika Vithanage, R K W Amarasekera and D N Magana-Arachchi are also IFS research scientists. Co-authors Abdul M. Ziyat and Ashantha Goonetilleke are from the Science and Engineering Faculty of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane. Australia and co-author D G G P Karunaratne is from the Department Chemical and Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya.

The research is based on data collected before October 2016. One of the main findings of the research is that Kandy city air carries a high concentration of heavy metals, namely Chromium, Manganese, Nickel, Copper, Cadmium, Lead, and Zinc.  While vehicular emission is the principal source of these pollutants, the researchers surmise the last, Zinc, comes partly from vehicular emission and partly from zinc coated roofing material. The researchers also say that the concentration of the heavy metal pollutants vary from area to area in the city depending largely on the traffic density and volume.

The researchers had also identified the presence of nine bacterial species in the atmosphere that also pose a risk to health.

Our reporter adds that a study published on this Tuesday, (March 28, 2017) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals that children who have had elevated blood-lead levels at age 11 have ended up in their adult lives with lower cognitive functions and lower-status occupations than their parents. The study had been done in the city of Dunedin in New Zealand using a sample of about 1,000 children born in the early 1970s.   

Air pollution in Kandy will be one of the themes that will be discussed at a seminar on “Kandy City Development” that will be held on Friday March 31st, 2017 from 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. at the Katugastota Water Treatment Plant.

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