SEPA data shows up to 40% reduction in air, noise pollution in Karachi

Environmental agency to take steps to retain improved air quality, noise levels

Sameer Mandhro June 05, 2020
Urban centre experiences pollution levels far below current permissible limits. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Metropolises across the world reported improved air quality and decreased noise pollution during lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus. As people were forced inside their houses awaiting the threat of the virus to be contained, cities witnessed clearer skies and a respite from the usual cacophony.

Karachi was no different. The port city experienced improved air quality and an up to 40 per cent decrease in noise pollution during the lockdown. This was disclosed during a dialogue with environmental experts held in the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency's (SEPA) complex on the occasion of World Environment Day on Friday.

Officials stated that the improved pollution levels were concluded after comparison with data collected using the same parameters now as before the lockdown was enforced.

The meeting decided that the collected data will be shared with all stakeholders, with industrial and transporter associations, and the secretaries of the industries and transports departments, in particular, to convince them to enforce relevant SOPs to maintain the improved environmental conditions in the city as broadly as possible.

According to data collected by SEPA, during the lockdown in April 2020, from different locations of the city's six districts, the average particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) – the most lethal and stubborn air pollutant – was reduced by 39 per cent as compared to the same data taken from 76 locations of the city in February 2020 before the lockdown. Likewise, noise level in the city also improved by 19 per cent during the lockdown, they maintained.

District-wise details of the data revealed that air quality of districts Central, East, South, West, Malir and Korangi improved by 8, 61, 40, 37, 25 and 54 per cent respectively while an improvement in noise level of Central 42, East 20, South 15, West 17, Malir 2 and Korangi 26 per cent was observed during the lockdown.

It was concluded that both noise and pollutions levels reached far below the currently permissible limits of Sindh Environmental Quality standards, which was noted to be good for the environment and for human health.

The session was held in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place post the lockdown as the pandemic persists. It was convened by the provincial secretary of the environment, climate change and coastal development department, Khan Muhammad Mahar, and was co-chaired by SEPA Director-General Naeem Ahmed Mughal.



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