The provincial capital, Lahore, was on Monday declared the most polluted city in the world, leaving its traditional rival New Delhi far behind.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Monday reached 289 in Lahore. “What makes the matter dangerous is that it was not smog on Monday, it was pure pollution,” claims an official of the environment department.
Smog occurs when smoke mixes with fog. The humidity level in the city on Monday was 60 percent — and such a level does not form fog. Monday’s mist did not cause any eye irritation, which also proves it was not smog. This means that this haze was pure pollution.
“Secondly, and what is extremely worrying as well, is the fact that it is purely indigenous,” adds the official. “The country is still experiencing westerly winds, which means the wind is flowing towards India, and pollution from that side of the border has still not invaded Pakistan.”
“Once the wind changes its direction and carries Indian pollution (mainly smoke emanating from stubble burning) into Pakistan, the situation here would certainly worsen.”
Turns out that there is very little the department can do to control the situation, except for dealing with the “hot spots” of pollution, the official continues. The industrial areas and their operations are under the microscope now.
In the meantime, the department has already instructed its field force to concentrate on industrial operations, especially during the night. Normally, the industry, especially in northern Lahore, uses substandard and highly polluting fuels during the night, he maintains.
The soaring pollution
The Meteorological department forecast does not provide any relief either. It predicts dry weather for the next 48 hours and does not see any rain (atmospheric cleanser) during the next few days.
On Monday, the wind speed, which normally carries away pollution, was only up to five knots. It left pollutants suspended in the Lahore air. A Met official said temperatures and mist would hold the same pattern for the next 24 hours.
Dr. Nadeem Ahmad, a pulmonologist, advises people to wear masks while stepping out of the house. Even homes need air purifiers now because the fine particles can invade lungs and even blood, let alone rooms. People with pre-existing conditions (like asthma) need to avoid going out and save themselves from this pollution as much as they can, he warns.
The Punjab University (PU) last month installed 10 gadgets to measure the causes of air pollution at various locations in the city. Its findings will be used to educate the public, government, and lawmakers to control health hazards of pollutants and curb pollution. But now it’s a fact that Lahore has become the most polluted city in the world.
Story Courtesy: Dawn News
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