LAHORE: Lahore on Thursday witnessed the worst air quality in the world, only second to Kabul, followed by New Delhi.
According to Air Visual, an organisation that provides anyone with free access to the world’s largest air quality database and ranks the world’s cities according to the Air Quality Index (AQI), Lahore is now on number 2 in the list of cities having the worst air quality in the world with an AQI of 315.
Previously, on November 13, Pakistan Today reported that Lahore was on number 9 on the list with an AQI of 153.
According to the Pakistani Air Quality Monitoring Project, The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that there are many reasons to be worried about the air quality in Lahore, with a yearly average of 68 µg/m3 of PM2.5, which corresponds to a 155 – Unhealthy Air Quality Index.
While speaking to a doctor at a local hospital, Pakistan Today learnt that the number of patients with respiratory problems has been growing at an exponential rate. Dr Imtiaz Butt, an ENT specialist said, “Since the last couple of years, the incidence of smog has grown at alarming levels, and the number of people coming in with respiratory issues has increased.”
Speaking about precautionary measures against the worsening air quality in Lahore, Dr Imtiaz said,”I would advise people to put on masks to avoid directly inhaling the air through their mouths, to avoid exercising out in the open, and to stay hydrated at all times.”
Environmental lawyer Rafay Alam, in a tweet, recently said according to the WHO, air pollution is the new tobacco.
WHO says air pollution the New Tobacco. Who here doubts smoking is injurious to health? Breathing air in our cities is now akin to smoking. One of the roles of a free press is to inform people of thugs that impact their lives. Which is why the Pakistani press’ silence baffles. https://t.co/z2N438m8I1
— Ahmad Rafay Alam (@rafay_alam) November 28, 2018
On Tuesday, environment experts urged the government to take immediate measures to improve air quality by offering support and solutions; and said that air pollution in Pakistan has become a “public health emergency” at a conference organised by WWF-Pakistan.
The World Health Organisation says that some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6 per cent of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.
A real-time world map on the organisation’s website shows Pakistan in the red zone alongside India, indicating the poorest levels of air pollution and quality.
Nearly 90 per cent of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low-and-middle-income countries, with nearly 2 out of 3 occurring in WHO’s South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
Ninety-four per cent are due to noncommunicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risks for acute respiratory infections.