Air Quality, Health and Industry

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that globally, 92% of people are exposed to unhealthy air and this stat continues to grow by 8% annually, according to the World Economic Forum. According to WHO, air pollution is responsible for 1 in 8 deaths globally.

Of the particles in released in air pollution, particulate matter (PM) is proven to be most harmful and publicly there is less awareness of it. The types of particulate matter that are of concern are PM 10 & PM 2.5. PM 2.5 particles, found in air pollution, include trace metals such as copper, magnesium, lithium, nickel cobalt, arsenic, selenium, and zinc, as well as complex gaseous aerosols. Coarse materials (PM 10) stick to the mucosa and cause irritation, while fine particles (PM 2.5) enters the interior airways. It is most problematic when small particles enter into the bloodstream through the capillary network leading to adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. Respirable particles can get deep into alveoli sacs and the damage the lungs. Trace metals can cause cancer and even genetic illness.  

Pakistan is one of the few countries that does not actively monitor air quality. Air quality of our surroundings has a direct impact on human and animal health. With increasing industrial development, rising air pollution levels account for the deaths of 155,000 people in the country in 2012. (WHO) In December 2018, Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi had Air Quality Index (AQI) levels of 336 (Hazardous), 159 (Unhealthy) and 141 (Unhealthy), proving to be an extremely unhealthy end for the year (PEPA). It is a public health emergency.

Pakistan Air Quality - City Ranking December 2018
Air Quality Map

Four main sources contribute to air pollution directly: industry, agriculture, transportation and urban waste. Businesses have a responsibility to monitor their emissions which contribute to the industrial air pollution in order to reduce their contribution of SOx, NOX, CO2 and particulate matter (PM 2.5/PM 10). Business can champion the movement for clean air, helping Pakistan meet its climate change commitments and grow sustainably – by installing air quality monitors and monitoring their own industrial emissions.