Cities of Central Asia: New hotspots of air pollution in the world

Madina Tursumbayeva, Aset Muratuly, Nassiba Baimatova, Ferhat Karaca, Aiymgul Kerimray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Central Asian cities are one of the hotspots for air pollution worldwide. There are limited studies and knowledge regarding air quality variation in this region. This study investigated PM2.5 temporal variations and the influence of meteorological parameters on PM2.5 concentrations for six major cities in Central Asia: Almaty and Astana (Kazakhstan), Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), and Tashkent (Uzbekistan). The results show severe air quality deterioration in the cities with annual PM2.5 concentrations up to ten-fold higher than the limits. A clear seasonal pattern with winter peaks was observed in Almaty, Bishkek, and Astana, whereas winter and summer were highly polluted in Tashkent and Dushanbe. Based on the pollution profiles, cities were classified into several clusters. Episodes with high PM2.5 concentrations were evaluated for regional pollutant transportation using the HYSPLIT model. The results of this investigation highlight a significant discrepancy in official emissions inventory studies. While previous studies have suggested that transportation is the primary source of air pollution, the approach to estimate the share of emission sources was based on an outdated methodology that obscures information on the most hazardous pollutants, including PM2.5. This study shows that coal combustion is the primary source of PM2.5 pollution in most cities, offering policymakers critical insights into the sources of air pollution in the region. These findings demonstrate the need for policymakers to take swift action to address coal use and adopt effective measures to mitigate PM2.5 pollution, thereby improving the health and well-being of the population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119901
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Sept 15 2023


  • Air mass trajectories
  • Air quality
  • Central asia
  • Covid-19 lockdown
  • Meteorological conditions
  • PM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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