On October 28, the Center for Standardization and Metrology under the Ministry of Economy (Kyrgyz Standard) officially registered the U.S. Embassy’s Air Quality Monitor (AQM) in the State Registry of Official Measuring Devices of the Kyrgyz Republic. Having received accreditation, the U.S. Embassy Air Quality Monitor can be officially referenced by all state agencies, including the Kyrgyz State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry and the State Agency for Hydrometeorology (Hydromet).
In cooperation with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, in December 2018 the Embassy of the United States installed a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved AQM at the Embassy complex. The initiative is part of an effort to replicate the U.S. approach to air quality monitoring at over 30 diplomatic missions overseas — including all of Central Asia and South Asia.
The AQM provides highly accurate data to show the real-time level of air quality around the Embassy and contributes to ongoing air quality monitoring efforts in Bishkek. The monitor reports the air quality index (AQI) of PM2.5 every hour as recommended by the U.S. EPA. In particular, AQI for PM2.5 measures levels of fine pollutants, high levels of which are linked to respiratory stress. The Bishkek AQI information (publicly available online at https://airnow.gov) is a useful tool to understand air quality levels and avoid exposure during periods of high PM2.5 readings to minimize the impact on health due to poor air quality conditions.
The Embassy’s attention to air quality led to the creation of a U.S. Embassy Green Team, that promotes environmentally sound standards within the U.S. Mission community and buildings. The team members encourage U.S. Mission personnel to take small steps in their daily lives that will have a positive and lasting impact on the environment such as recycling and composting. The U.S. Embassy collaborates with a local company to recycle plastic, metal, glass and cardboard. Community gardens are available to all Embassy staff to learn about sustainable agriculture. The program includes an education component to host school students and encourage environmental leadership at the local level.
Together with the Kyrgyz government, the U.S. Embassy continues to explore options for cooperation on a range of environmental issues, including air quality, and other initiatives to keep Bishkek green.