After being ranked as the second-most polluted country in the World Air Quality Report 2019, the Ministry of Climate Change has drafted the Pakistan Clean Air Program 2020 to deal with the environmental damage.
The new clean air program provides a list of interventions for improving air quality concerning vehicles, industries, solid waste burning, and dust.
As per the report, four industrial cities of Pakistan, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Faisalabad, have been listed among the world’s most polluted cities due to disorganized transportation, usage of fossil fuels in factories and power plants, and improper burning of solid waste.
However, the incumbent government has taken various steps to rectify the damage. Some of them are the introduction of the electric vehicle policy, import of environmental-friendly Euro-V, and closure of industrial units in 12 of the most polluted districts of Punjab for two months.
Moreover, most brick-kilns across the country have been shifted to environmentally-friendly Zig-Zag technology.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality guidelines, the average annual reduction of PM2.5 concentrations is required to go down by 25 points, from 35 µg/m3, to around 10 µg/m3, to reduce deaths related to air pollution by about 15 percent.
However, the data reveals that the PM2.5 concentrations in Pakistan went up almost 100 percent above this threshold to 65 µg/m3 – the second highest in the world.
What is PM2.5?
Fine particulate matter or PM2.5 is an air pollutant. It becomes a concern for people’s health when its concentration level in the air is higher than the 24-hour standard 35 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3).
According to WHO statistics, poor air quality claims around 113,500 lives in Pakistan every year – some 9 percent of overall deaths recorded annually. This also proves quite costly for the poor country, inflicting damages worth $12.51 billion each year.