The smog level in Lahore is increasing with the start of winter. The Lahore AQI (Air Quality Index) shows serious levels of particulate matter in the air. The winter has not started yet, but the inhabitants have already started facing the hazardous effects of smog. Many people are facing eye, nose, and throat irritation, and some are having cough-related issues. Asthmatic patients are at high risk.
Pakistan is already facing severe environmental issues. The recent flood has shown its havoc in the country. Many have been killed and millions have been displaced from their homes and lands. Pakistan is among the countries that have not considered environmental issues seriously and are now facing havoc. To understand the quality of air in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, check out this website. https://www.iqair.com/pakistan/punjab/lahore.
Current condition Lahore:
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutants|
|Hazardous||337 US AQI||P.M 2.5|
What is smog?
Smog is a type of intense air pollution that forms due to both smoke and fog in industrialized areas. The term “smog” was used for the first time in the early 20th century. It is a mixture of smoke and fog. It is referred to as “smoky fog” due to the smoke and odor it contains.
Smog contains nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, ozone, and other particles. The reasons behind the smog are the vehicular elimination of hydrocarbons, soot, and polluted particles. Among others are the elimination of gases from coal combustion, forest and agricultural fires, and last but not least, photochemical reactions.
Smog is categorized as summer smog and winter smog.
Summer smog is basically due to ozone. Ozone is beneficial in the upper layers of the atmosphere, but in the lower regions of the land, it works as a poison. In summer, when the temperature is warmer, there will be more sunlight coming down to the earth’s surface, which creates photochemical smog, the major type of smog. Smog of a photochemical nature is produced when a reaction takes place between light and nitrogen dioxide. A minimum of one volatile compound is also involved in the reaction.
Winter smog, as the name suggests, forms during winter. At lower temperatures, atmospheric conversions are common. To heat homes and working areas, there is increased use of coal and fossil fuels. These emit gases of sulfur, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide, which together with hydrocarbon soot and other particulate matter create smog in winter.
It converts the color of the air to grey, brown, or red. An intense burning sensation is felt with the winter smog. Volatile organic compounds react with gases like nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and moisture to produce ground-level smog.
Nitrogen and sulfur oxides come from the exhaust of petroleum and the burning of other fossil fuels like coal. Volatile hydrocarbons become released from the car exhaust from gasoline burning and the burning of other organic matter. The striking of the light with these gases produces ozone. Ozone has deleterious effects that affect lung tissue and itchy, burning eyes and causes great havoc for patients dealing with asthma. Smog makes the sky brown or grey.
In South Asia, the major contributor to smog is agricultural fires, which are lit to get the finished product. Forest and farm burning is a major cause of smog in Indonesia, India, and specifically Pakistan.
Unfortunately, all three countries are not able to enforce the laws. Lack of public awareness of smog is the major contributor to the unhealthy environment. Convincing the farmers about this issue can be done by telling them about the severe issues of smog and their relation to health, and by holding awareness campaigns about the risks involved at the local and governmental levels.
Importance of environmental studies:
With the advancement of the industrialized world, man has created pollution in the environment. Proper laws must be made to stop the environmental changes in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the government of Pakistan is not interested in this. So public awareness and industrial monitoring are still not considered priorities as they should be.
People should be made aware of the fact that the waste material from crops can be used in the production of paper. Wheat, rice, and corn straw can be used in paper manufacturing, which will require less fuel consumption and is more economical as compared to the production of paper from wood. Cutting wood requires more energy and is less economical. It also creates environmental pollution.
How to decrease environmental pollution in Pakistan?
The Lahore AQI (Air Quality Index) shows a remarkable increase in the particulate matter in the air, which shows that the pollution level in Pakistan and specifically in Lahore is much higher. Pakistan is ranked second among the most polluted countries.
In winter, the level of smog increases, and Pakistan beats other countries to come out as the most polluted country on earth. So in this situation, public awareness sessions, webinars, and walks must be done in order to make people understand the health hazards it causes to human health.
Certain preventive factors can be optimized to have a better quality environment. To make the environment a safe place for upcoming generations, we need to save it today.
Guidelines for a safe and healthy environment:
The measures that can be taken are:
- Today, everybody is becoming so sluggish that even for a 5-minute walk, people prefer bikes and other vehicles. Changing these bad habits will be the key to controlling environmental pollution. Walk more, avoid overuse of cars. Use public transport instead.
- Tuning vehicles on a regular basis will help with gas mileage monitoring and prevent excessive emissions of gases into the environment.
- Try to fuel your vehicles during the cooler hours of the day, at night, or at dawn. This will prevent light interaction with the volatile fumes of gasoline and help prevent the formation of smog.
- Avoid using coal for heating purposes. Use electric heaters or construct your homes with air-insulated windows and walls. This will help the home become cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Health hazards of smog:
Smog has very deleterious effects on human health. Ground-level smog is especially life-threatening to children, senior citizens, and people with heart and lung disease. As it causes inflammation of the bronchi, and other air passages, it can decrease the capacity of the lungs to filter air and provide blood with oxygen in the required amount. This condition can start both asthma attacks and also angina attacks in asthmatic and cardiac patients, respectively.
In cardiac patients, if the oxygen level is below normal, the myocardium can be under stress, leading to the formation of toxic compounds within the cells that will damage the myocardium. In return, the heart needs to work harder and the body goes into a hypertension situation that ultimately leads to angina attack and cardiac failure. It can cause shortness of breath and pain during deep inhalation, wheezing, and coughing. It dries out the nasal and throat membranes and causes irritation, reducing the body’s ability to fight infection.
Respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), etc. are risk factors for many individuals. Exacerbations worsen in people who already have this disease and require hospitalization. Deaths occur in many cases.
Birth-related defects like spinal and neural tube defects can occur. Low childbirth weight and other issues can also occur due to smog. An increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease may be directly or indirectly linked to smog.
A person having congestive heart failure (CHF) is particularly at risk of developing serious problems like heart failure and angina. Other issues related to rhinitis and certain hypersensitivity reactions can be life-threatening. Premature deaths and an increased risk of cancer are due to smog.
Level of smog exposure that is deleterious:
The US EPA stated values for the monitoring of air quality indexes. The stated levels are :
- Unhealthy levels of ozone for individuals who are sensitive range from an average ozone concentration of 85 to 104 ppby.
- Levels ranging from 105,to 124 ppby are considered unhealthy.
- Levels ranging from 125 to 404 pbpy are taken as very unhealthy. The very unhealthy range for other pollutants and particulate matter is also important
- For particulate matter, it ranges from 355 to 424 micrograms per meter cube.
- For carbon monoxide(CO), it is 15.5ppm to 30.4ppm.
- For nitrogen dioxide, its levels are in the range of 0.65 to 1.24ppm.
Smog levels in Pakistan specifically Lahore:
When the winter season starts, heavy smog loaded with particulate matter and dangerous gases covers Punjab, specifically Lahore. This decreases visibility and traffic control in many parts of Punjab, specifically Lahore. Those who have to cross the Ravi bridge on a daily basis have to face traffic and loss of time.
Optical instruments like nephelometers are used to check the visibility criteria. For checking the air quality, specialists use the American Air Quality Index, the Malaysian API (Air Pollution Index), and the Singaporean Pollution Standards Index.
How to prevent the deleterious effects of smog?
This is how we can prevent ourselves from the disastrous effects of smog.
- Keep checking the Air Quality Index
- If the AQI is poor and shows high levels of particulate matter then avoid going to the affected places.
- Avoid outdoor exercising specifically the rush areas and times when the particulate matter levels are high.
- Keep your inhaler with you if you have asthma and COPD.
- Try to avoid traffic jams.
- Try to stay indoors.
- Wear a mask while going out
- Run an air purifier inside rooms
- Keep your windows closed to avoid bulk interaction with polluted air.
- Increase the consumption of water.
Check out this link for further studies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smog
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