Smog has been a very devastating issue in the plain areas of Pakistan for the last couple of years. It is basically a type of air pollution which is made of atmospheric gases and air particles, released in the environment by burning of the fuels. The reaction between these air pollutants and the heat from the sunlight leads to the formation of thick layer of hazy air in the environment which is known as smog. It causes enormous health issues, specifically related to lungs & breathing.
Health Issues Caused By Smog
Smog leads to serious health issues which may include respiratory diseases such as asthma, allergies, pneumonia, breathing difficulties and much fatal lung cancer. It also causes eye irritation, carcinogenic problems, skin problems and premature deaths. Children and elderly persons are more prone to the ailments caused by this hazard. A study reporting the long-term effects of the great London Smog of 1952 concluded that exposure to smog during the first year of life increased the risk of childhood asthma by 19·87%.
Reasons Of Rising Smog In Pakistan
Smog has been affecting most of the areas of Punjab during the winters including Lahore, Multan, Vehari, Burewala, Rajanpur and Kahanewal. The basic causes of smog formation include increased vehicles that lead to more burning of the fuels and hence release of the outcome air pollutants in the environment. More over the industrial plants adds on to the gaseous waste and thus lead to smog formation. Lahore being the second largest city of Pakistan is affected by the smog due to both the reasons mentioned above. Other reasons of heavy blanket of smog in Lahore include deforestation; speedy urbanization and fast growing population of the city causing reduced means of proper ventilation. The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PAK-EPA) and Provincial Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for monitoring the air pollution throughout the country especially the urban regions. A Study conducted over a period of five years to compare the level of fine particles in Lahore with the guidelines provided by WHO concluded ,“The annual average PM2.5 (Ambient Particulate) of the areas studied (Lahore region) was 136.5 ± 34.1 μg/m3 , which is roughly 14 folds higher than the WHO guidelines. This study also mentions that this level of particulate matter was comparable to one of the most polluted mega-cities of the world, Delhi, at 143.0 ± 17.8 μg/m3.” This study hence shows the worsening state of air pollution in Lahore.
Measures To Control Smog
Smog is affecting a huge region of Pakistan and is worsening with time. Proper measures should be taken to make people aware of the harmful effects caused by smog .This can be done through the following measures: 1. An organized awareness campaign where people can be taught to protect themselves from smog by avoiding unnecessary visits outside home and proper use of masks to avoid direct contact with smog. 2. Awareness programs must be conducted on social media, television, radio, educational institutes. 3. Pamphlets regarding protection against smog must be distributed among the masses to ensure proper awareness. 4. Government should take steps to reduce the release of burning fuels in the environment or should provide alternative fuel options that may be environment friendly. 5. Plantation of forests may help in cleaning the air by doing away with the pollutants.
These measures will surely help us in preventing the smog formation and hence the breathing issues caused by it leading to healthier generations in future. Furthermore, any one with increased exposure to smog and air pollution, should visit a pulmonologist or ENT for regular checkup at least once a month,