The word smog is come from the combination of two words “Smoke and Fog.” It means the presence of tiny Air pollutants in the air. SMOG has been produced by the reaction of nitrogen oxides (generated by motorized vehicles, coal power plants and industries) with volatile organic compounds in the presence of sun light.
Why is it extremely important to discuss SMOG? It is very important because SMOG has been producing wide range adverse impacts and becomes the origin of many diseases. Asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory problems as well as eye irritation and lung infections are the diseases produced by SMOG. Moreover, SMOG also reduces Plants growth. As presence of ozone in smog inhibits plant growth and can cause widespread damage to crops and forests.
So, it can safely be ventured that, SMOG is a problem which cannot be ignored at any cost. A pertinent question arises that How to measure SMOG in air? For that purpose, the air quality meter PCE-RCM 05 is used. The meter displays PM 2.5 particulate matter (PM 2.5 is an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in air are high) as well as temperature and humidity. The air quality meter PCE-HFX 100 is specially designed for that purpose. According to air Quality meter if,
- Air Quality index value is in the range of 0 to 50, air quality is good for health.
- Air Quality index value is in the range of 51 to 100, air quality is moderate for health.
- Air Quality index value is in the range of 101 to 150, air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups.
- Air Quality index value is in the range of 150 to 200, air quality is unhealthy.
- Air Quality index value is in the range of 201 to 300, air quality is very unhealthy.
- Air Quality index value is in the range of 301 to 500, air quality is hazardous.
Now let’s guess what? Lahore topped the global ranking of cities with the worst air quality reported by 21st November 2019. It has become world’s most polluted city. The air quality went up to ‘hazardous’ with an Air Quality Index (AQI) oscillating 500 to 550 on the Air Quality Index. In Gulberg area even it has recorded 600 AQI. By above mentioned statistics it is hazardous to go outside in Lahore.
Why is the value so high in Lahore? The answer has many logical standings. Firstly, in Population ranking, Lahore city is on top in the list after the Karachi. Current population of Lahore in 2019 is 12,188,000, a 3.83% increase from 2018. More population demand more infrastructure, industries, houses and particularly more vehicles. Emission by motorized Vehicles, industries and excessive use of Coal are the main reasons to drop air quality in Lahore. In addition to this, rapid urbanization is also a great cause. Green fields and other natural resources has also been continuously depleting, in outcome air pollution in increasing.
What if situation of Lahore remains the same? Logically speaking, there would be uncountable damages if situation remains the same. First, socially structure of living Lahore will be deteriorated. Students would not be able to go to their schools. People would not be able to sit together for daily chit chat in evenings. Road accidents will increase by decreasing visibility. Health of the citizens will be under threat. As per WHO report by 2013, cumulative exposure to smog heightens the chances of premature death from cancers and respiratory diseases. Moreover, If looked at historical perspective, by 1952, 4,000 people had died as a direct result of the smog and 100,000 more were made ill by the smog’s effects in London.
Secondly, there will be a huge economic loss. By World Bank report, Air pollution disturbs the economy in several ways: it costs human lives, it reduces people’s ability to work, it affects vital products like food, it damages cultural and historical monuments, it reduces the ability of ecosystems to perform functions societies need and it costs money in restoration. Simply put, Business will be shut down while economy declines in no time.
Lastly and most importantly, political stability of a country will decline. As economic growth slows, schools would be closed for days while send thousands to the hospitals. The living example is recent campaign in Sweden, leading by a young activist Greta Thunberg, where billion of people came out to the roads and has been criticizing the governments for climate change and Air pollution. At national level, $47.8 billion is the estimated economic burden of air pollution in Pakistan.
The sum and substance of above discussion is that situation right now in Lahore is very risky. However, there are certain remedies which can control the problem up to significance extent. For instance, tree plantation could be a way to overcome the situation. The way is cost-effective. BBC news reported that the average reduction of particulate matter near a tree was between 7% and 24%. Moreover, Citizens can also demand clean air from their governments. In return, government will review their policies and implement them properly. At individual level, everyone can contribute as much as one can. Everyone must think that, if color of our flag is green then why our country is not green? Everyone must has a belief that, it is dire need to switch from motor cars to public transport, and from nonrenewable energy sources to renewable energy sources.
May Allah bless this land with clean and green environment! Long Live Pakistan!