A Reuters file photo of the Bialowieza forest in Europe.

Pakistan sees improvement in environment amid pandemic

Doctors report lesser complaints of respiratory distress due to air pollution

APP May 31, 2020
LAHORE: The safety measures to restrict mobility and physical interactions of people to halt the spread of deadly pandemic have positively affected the environmental landscape of the major cities of Pakistan as well as those around the globe.

Lessened socio-economic activities during the last six months have reduced the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a better level in Punjab and the rest of the world.

Measures to the likes of halting operation of power plants and industrial units continue to impact the planet positively, allowing it to heal itself. Similarly, transport operations were also restricted to a great deal, diminishing the amount of usual contaminants in the air.

An official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department said that the reduced transport activities in Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta improved air quality during the last two months.

As per meteorological office data, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Lahore has significantly improved since the government has limited the movement of people and transport to contain the pandemic. A senior pulmo,nologist of Jinnah Hospital said that after a very long time Lahore has witnessed a very fine quality of air, adding, the patients of respiratory disorders are not complaining about shortness of breath, stinging eyes or nausea.

Decline in concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter in the major cities of Pakistan like Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi and the rest of the world have pleasantly surprised researchers worried about global warming and climate change.

Environmentalist Dr Mehmood Khalid Qamar said that due to the lockdown nitrogen and carbon dioxides emission had dropped significantly resulting in a healthier environment.

The WHO in its recent report has stressed that breathing quality air is essential for the good health of people. As much as 90% of the world population lives in such residential zones where air quality has degraded beyond permissible limits, the report highlighted.

United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur David Boyd said people living in areas with higher air pollution levels face an increased risk of premature death from the coronavirus disease. Similarly, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observatory has released satellite images that confirm lessened environmental pollution owing to restricted movement of humans. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) climate change expert Kashif Salik said lower oil production and subsequent reduction in prices, stalled vehicle sales and 83% reduction in motorway traffic have uplifted the environment.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2020.


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