Islamabad residents breathed unhealthy air in December last year: EPA

ISLAMABAD: The air quality in the federal capital was recorded unhealthy throughout December last year due to high pollution level, affecting the people especially patients of lungs and heart diseases, according to a report issued by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Sunday.

According to the report, the particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5), a hazardous ambient air pollutant which can cause chronic respiratory diseases and premature deaths, was recorded higher than the safer limits.

The PM2.5 not only exceeded the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) of 35 micrograms per cubic metre, but also surpassed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard of 20 micrograms per cubic metre.

The report revealed that the average PM2.5 was recorded 57.66 micrograms per cubic metre whereas sulphur dioxide was recorded 34.6 micrograms per cubic metre and nitrogen dioxide was 24.19 against the NEQS of 120 micrograms per cubic metre and 80 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.

The air quality data was recorded through calibrated air quality monitors. As the monitors were both fixed and mobile, accurate air quality data was received.

The EPA official said that due to dry weather, the air quality was recorded unhealthy with the large quantity of particulate matter of 2.5 microns above the NEQS limit.

She added that it was the calculating limit of air pollutants into the atmosphere. The PM2.5 is the unhealthiest environmental pollutant and it can cause chronic respiratory diseases and premature deaths as it can easily penetrate into human blood through lungs’ cells.

To a question, she said that sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are released from industrial emissions and car engines at different concentrations, which accumulate into the ambiance causing air pollution.

The air pollution was also recorded high during the month of November last year, where the PM2.5 was recorded maximum, beyond 60 micrograms per cubic metre.

She added that the EPA is making all-out efforts to control air pollution. The industrial units and brick kilns were strictly inspected and sealed on violating environmental laws.

The health experts advised the citizens to wear face masks or coverings, avoid unnecessary prolonged exertion outdoors and immediately contact a health physician or doctor in case of serious respiratory issue.

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