Lahore declared as second most polluted city

Air quality in Lahore deteriorated to hazardous level 

Switzerland-based air quality information platform IQair declared Lahore the second most polluted city, after New Delhi, India's capital. It is currently ranked as the fourth most polluted city in the world, preceded by Beijing, Delhi and Mumbai.

Lahoris are feeling the effects of smog in the city. The health officials have warned the people to take precautionary measures and stay home. The risk of respiratory disease and eye-related problems has increased.   

The air quality in Lahore deteriorated to hazardous levels, putting an additional burden on the fragile healthcare system amid a surge in coronavirus deaths and new infections. The Air Quality Index at one point reached to 750 in the city's poorer areas — about 12 times the recommended level.

Pollution indexes peak dramatically in Pakistan in winter, when farmers burn off stubble in the fields. Winds worsen the pollution by further spreading smog across the region. "The air quality level was hazardous today,” said Sajid Bashir, a spokesman for Environmental Protection Department.

By mid-day the situation had improved, he said, as authorities took steps to keep smoke emitting vehicles off the roads and shut brick kilns across the province of Punjab.

Lahore, once dubbed as the city of gardens, remained pollution-free for months after March, when the government imposed a lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. But the restriction was lifted in May, allowing a return to industrial activities and normal businesses. With cars back on the roads, the air quality gradually deteriorated, falling again to unhealthy levels.

Cars are the top pollutants in Lahore but the city also has other sources of pollution, including the stubble burning, steel manufacturing furnaces and the city's famous brick kilns.

"Coughing, throat infection and irritation in the eyes are common," said Anza Farid, an environmental expert, warning that the situation could worsen in the coming weeks as more people burn garbage in the cities and farmers burn off the stubble in their fields.

                                                 Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor

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