ISLAMABAD: Increasing number of vehicles, construction works and smoke output from factories, especially steel mills, is causing air pollution in the capital city to spike, reported a local media outlet on Sunday.
Certain sectors in Islamabad fare quite poorly in terms of air quality. In particular I-8, I-9, I-10 and I-11 have the worst air quality as compared to other parts of the city, according to officials at the Ministry of Climate Change.
“Islamabad may not have the worst air quality but its high enough to have drawn the attention of the Supreme Court over the past years, issuing directions to monitor emissions from steel mills in particular. The declining air quality is the biggest environmental issue in Islamabad,” said an official of the ministry.
The black smoke that residents of these areas often see is black carbon that contains Particular Matter (PM) 10 and is produced due to poor manufacturing practices by the steel mills and furnaces, using low quality scrap oil and paint canisters. Inhalation causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, he explained.
“But the worst is PM 2.5, mixture of solid and liquid particles that circulate in the air. Inhaling these particles can increase the risk of lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits from people with asthma or heart related problems.”
“A lot of these problems could be resolved if the steel mill owners switched on their filtering equipment,” he added.
Residents of the aforementioned sectors have also expressed apprehension over the issue.
“We open our eyes to a toxic fog mixed with tons of poisonous soot when the steel mills start their engines every morning after 5 am. Our children breathe the same air,” said one resident of I-9.
Ministry of Climate Change Secretary Khizer Hayat Khan denied having any knowledge of the problem.
“This issue was never brought to my attention,” he said.
Upon verifying with his subordinates, he explained that the steel mill owners have been directed to install filters at their plants by the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) and that failure to comply with regulations may lead to cancellation of leases.
“More action action is expected along these lines next week,” he added.