Air quality crisis

In Pakistan, the average concentrations of PM2.5 has reached 73.7 micrograms per cubic meter

March 23, 2024


A new set of data has recently revealed alarming levels of air pollution in South Asia. With Pakistan, Bangladesh and India ranking among the world’s most polluted countries in 2023, the region faces significant health risks and environmental challenges that demand urgent attention and decisive solutions. The statistics show that particulate matter concentrations in these countries exceed WHO standards by more than 15 times, posing grave threats to public health and well-being.

In Pakistan, the average concentrations of PM2.5 has reached 73.7 micrograms per cubic meter, exceeding way more than the 5-microgram threshold set by WHO. A complex interplay of factors including climate conditions, geographic constraints, industrial emissions and agricultural practices have further exacerbated the problem. To confront the air quality crisis, Pakistan must prioritise a comprehensive approach that includes immediate measures to mitigate pollution and safeguard public health. Stricter regulations on industrial emissions and enhanced enforcement of vehicular emission standards, including the promotion of cleaner fuels, are essential steps that the government must take to address the root causes of air pollution. Furthermore, public awareness and community engagement are crucial. Education on sustainable practices can help foster a culture of environmental stewardship and collective responsibility in younger generations. Regional cooperation also plays a vital role in addressing the transboundary nature of air pollution. In this regard, a coordinated approach, with India, to crop management is essential. A joint initiative on educating farmers about the environmental, health and economic benefits of alternatives to crop burning will benefit both sides.

Ultimately, addressing air pollution in South Asia requires a coordinated and multi-faceted approach that leverages the collective expertise and resources of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. By working together, these countries can achieve significant progress in improving air quality and safeguarding the environment for future generations.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2024.

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