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Monday November 29, 2021

Minister warns of action against those issuing fake air quality data

November 12, 2021

LAHORE: Punjab Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has decided to take strict legal action against individuals/companies issuing fake air quality index (AQI) data, especially on social media.

The decision was taken after a study conducted by Punjab Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) between the AQI data collected through privately installed low cost air monitors and the EPA’s ambient air monitoring equipment on Bedian Road, Lahore. The study proved that the data collected by privately installed low cost monitors was not authentic and was spreading disinformation among the public. A two-member team of EPA, comprising Assistant Research Officer Dr Rizwan and Instrument Technician Nasir Saleem, conducted study during November 10 and 11 after which it was scientifically proved that the AQI data collected by this monitor was wrong. EPA’s report said that most of the privately installed devices used an aerosal meter as compared with the EPA’s particulate matter analyzer which used Beta Attenuation Method (BAM).

The report said that BAM technique was notified in Punjab Environmental Quality Standards (PEQS) as well as approved by US EPA. The report further stated that the air quality monitoring method used by Air Visual devices was light scattering which was not notified by Punjab EPA and even any regulatory body in the world.

According to the report, the Air Visual device installed at a private factory was reporting an average 26.91 percent higher result as compared to EPA’s AQMS. It said the average AQI with PM2.5 concentration from 2pm to 11pm for EPA AQMS was recorded 239 while the average AQI for the same time were recorded by Air Visual was 331.

EPD Minister Muhammad Rizwan said that the Punjab government has decided to take legal action against those spreading the fake AQI. “Nobody is allowed to spread misinformation among the public over this sensitive matter of air quality. If the AQI reaches 500 then it shows that people in Lahore were dying due to poor air quality,” he said and declared release of fake air quality data as a criminal act.

The minister said that only the official data release by the EPA was reliable and media should report this data. He also asked the general public not to believe in any unofficial statistics released by any private company or individual. The minister said that the department has already warned the owners of cheap devices to stop disseminating fake data otherwise legal action will be taken against them.