Air pollutant emissions and sources in Lao People’s Democratic Republic a provincial scale analysis for years 2013-2019

Connie O’Neill*, Jessica Slater, Vanphanom Sychareun, Viengnakhone Vongxay, Bounmany Soulideth, Christopher S. Malley, Diane Archer, Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent rapid economic development in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) has increased national fuel consumption, vehicle fleet, industrial output, waste generation, and agricultural production. This has contributed to national average ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollutant levels that are four times higher than World Health Organisation guidelines. Emission inventories are a key tool in understanding the major sources to these air pollution levels, and provide a starting point to identify where mitigation action can be targeted. A national air pollutant emission inventory has not been developed in Lao PDR and, combined with a limited air quality monitoring network means there is limited capacity to develop and track the effectiveness of mitigation actions. This study describes the first air pollutant emission inventory at the national and provincial scale for Lao PDR, covering 2013-2019. Emissions of nine air pollutants, and two greenhouse gases, were quantified using national statistics and international default emission factors. In 2019, national total PM2.5, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Black Carbon (BC), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Non-Methane Volatile Organic Carbons (NMVOCs), and Ammonia (NH3) were 125, 83, 9.7, 26, 219, and 99 thousand tonnes respectively. Key source sectors include forest fires, residential cooking, agriculture, electricity generation, and transport. However, the contribution of different sources varies across provinces. Forest fires are the primary source determining the spatial trend of particulate air pollution while residential and agricultural emissions contribute more significantly to rural provinces such as Savannakhet. Key sectors in major urban provinces (Vientiane Capital and Xayaboury) are industry, transport and electricity generation. These sectors are also significant sources of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4), demonstrating the potential for identification, evaluation and prioritisation of actions that simultaneously improve air quality and achieve Lao PDR’s international climate change commitments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035028
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental Research Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In 2022, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Lao PDR (MONRE) and the Natural Resource and Environment Research Institute (NRERI) began to develop an initial air pollutant mitigation assessment for Lao PDR through a project funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This study presents the first national air pollutant emission inventory for Lao PDR developed through this project. It quantifies national total air pollutant emissions in Lao PDR, highlights key source sectors by province, and shows the spatial and temporal variation between 2013 and 2019. The overlap between major sources of air pollutants and greenhouse gases is shown through quantification of carbon dioxide (CO) and methane (CH) emissions alongside air pollutants. This inventory therefore provides a foundation to assess the ability of mitigation measures to simultaneously reduce air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions in Lao PDR. 2 4

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd


  • air pollution
  • emission inventory
  • greenhouse gases
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic

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