Sunday December 03, 2023

Islamabad’s air quality unhealthy

November 20, 2023
This picture shows the grand Faisal Mosque covered in heavy smog in the capital, Islamabad. — AFP/File
This picture shows the grand Faisal Mosque covered in heavy smog in the capital, Islamabad. — AFP/File

Islamabad:The air quality of the federal capital was recorded an unhealthy on Sunday as the air pollutants ratio in the atmosphere was beyond the permissible limits of the national environmental quality standards of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency as dry and cloudy weather clouted the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) daily air quality report indicated an increased ratio of air pollutants, recorded below permissible limits, and the air quality was unhealthy. The Agency is responsible for ensuring the protection of the environment under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997.The hazardous air pollutant particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5), which was a hazardous atmospheric contaminant, remained at 52.6 microgrammes per cubic meter on average which was higher than the national environmental quality standards (NEQS) of 35 mic-programs per cubic meter and denoted the air quality unhealthily.

PM2.5 is generated through the combustion of an engine, industrial emissions, burning garbage or inflammable material, and dust blown up by fast-moving cars plying on non-cemented patches of the roads. The ratio of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide (NO2&SO2 respectively) also remained below the NEQS that were mostly produced during the industrial emissions from the factories involving complex and extraordinary chemicals'' use in production processes.

The NO2 remained 6.4 microgrammes per cubic meter and SO2 was 17.36 microgrammes per cubic meter. The EPA officials claimed that the vehicular emissions due to increased automobiles was one of the leading cause of bad air quality. Industrial emissions have already subsided due to carbon-absorbing advanced technology installed at various steel manufacturing units.

When calculated at the Air Quality Index (AQI) calculator of AirNow the PM2.5 concentrations revealed an AQI of 143 leaving the air quality status to be unhealthy for sensitive group which left the people with mainly respiratory and heart diseases, elderly and children mostly at high risk of contracting respiratory or health complications due to air pollutants in the atmosphere. The experts urged the people belonging to the sensitive group to avoid prolonged and heavy exertion outdoors.