Air pol­lu­tion

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

EV­ERY year, three mil­lion peo­ple around the world die due to out­door pol­lu­tion. If this fact is not scary enough, here’s an­other. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est air qual­ity re­port from the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), which cov­ers 3,000 cities in 103 coun­tries, more than 80 per cent of peo­ple liv­ing in ur­ban ar­eas that mon­i­tor air pol­lu­tion are breath­ing air laden with pol­lu­tants. And this re­al­ity is more dis­turb­ing than it sounds. The key words here are ‘ar­eas that mon­i­tor air pol­lu­tion’. There are sev­eral coun­tries around the globe that have ran­dom mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems or none at all, lead­ing to the alarm­ing prospect that had there been more ef­fec­tive mea­sur­ing sys­tems in place, we prob­a­bly could be look­ing at an even grim­mer sce­nario.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, lev­els of ul­tra-fine par­ti­cles of less than 2.5 mi­crons (less than a frac­tion of the width of a hu­man hair — known as PM2.5) are found in more cities in In­dia than else­where and among other coun­tries that con­trib­ute to the world’s worst 30 cities are China with five cities, and Pak­istan and Iran, with one city each. The more fine and in­vis­i­ble to the eye the par­ti­cles that pol­lute air, the worse it is for us to breathe them in. Just as we are the food we eat and the thoughts we think, so also are we the air we breathe. Many stud­ies have un­equiv­o­cally es­tab­lished that breath­ing poor qual­ity air can re­duce an in­di­vid­ual’s life span by al­most one third. While de­vel­oped coun­tries are com­par­a­tively more suc­cess­ful in at­tend­ing to this en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cern, the brunt is borne by pop­u­la­tions of fast-de­vel­op­ing and eco­nom­i­cally strapped coun­tries who fail to cre­ate syn­ergy be­tween in­fra­struc­ture, poli­cies and gov­er­nance. While many govern­ments are fi­nally wak­ing up to the is­sue of air pol­lu­tion, the fact is that un­less the causative fac­tors for air pol­lu­tion are ad­dressed — unchecked ex­pan­sion of do­mains such as con­struc­tion, in­dus­try, trans­port, fos­sil fuel de­pen­dence, to name the worst of­fend­ers — devel­op­ment will con­tinue to be at the cost of qual­ity of life. — Gulf News

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