How we can curtail smog in 2018 – and beyond

For the past few years, Lahore is facing hazardous air pollution and this appears to be a blanket of smog. Smog is a mixture of air pollutants, NOx, Sox and volatile organic compounds which combine with sunlight to make ground layer ozone.

Smog appears at the beginning of winter every year, because temperatures become low and pollutants become dense and form a layer, which is very dangerous for health, especially for those people who are suffering for respiratory diseases.

In 2016, many reasons were considered, i.e. burning of Indian crops, increase in traffic junctions, low standard quality fuel used in vehicles, increasing industrial emissions, unwanted material from factories etc. These were the reasons behind the smog in 2016, but EPA emphasized on the first reason i.e. that the smog in Lahore is due to crop burning in three states of India includingJalander, Amritsar and Bhatinda. The crop burning also affected New Delhi. So, it is unfair to blame others, rather we must focus on our mistakes.

Environmentalists and members of the civil society rejected the policy recently formulated by Punjab government because it contained various flaws, and no solid evidence of India’s involvement in the smog was found. People were suffering due to pollution and were made to face the toxic smog due to EPAs negligence. Smog is a matter of serious concern which should not be neglected, but the government had given a free hand to irresponsible officials who run the EPA.

College of Earth and Environmental Sciences principal Dr. Sajid Rashid said that smog was the responsibility of the authorities who are concerned with keeping a check on the air quality. In 2014, authorities were warned to improve air quality or else face an uncontrollable situation of increased pollution. Now smog has finally enveloped the major cites of Punjab, but the government is still using delaying tactics. He added, “The thing is that we must have knowledge about the air quality index, but the EPA is still unable to get fixed readings”

This year the same smog appeared with its hazardous effects. Neither the government nor the EPA are taking steps to get rid of this smog. They just suggested precautions which are end to end pipe solutions. They should adapt long term solutions i.e.

  • Improving fuel quality, phasing out fuel-guzzling cars
  • Introducing solar and other renewable sources of energy
  • Planting trees on a large scale and improving public transportation to reduce the number of cars on the roads.
  • Control or manage the traffic in such a way that it is no more contribute in smog
  • We should improve our lifestyles i.e., use public transport instead of that everyone has its own vehicle.
  • Improve and introduce such ways to better the coal and fuel quality.

And they should also try to take steps to reduce the emissions of NOx and Sox. Coal contains almost 1.0-3.5 percent of nitrogen content which is much higher than agriculture waste that has around 0.3-0.7 percent. This means that burning agriculture waste does not emit as much NOx as does the burning of coal. Vehicles are another major source of NOX. Almost 38 percent of the world’s NOx emissions come from vehicles. This is in comparison to 24 percent of NOx emissions via electricity production and distribution. Agriculture waste accounts for only 1.4 percent of NOx emissions.

NOx value was higher than the baseline value:the taken at Mohanwal near Bahria Town was 525.17 ug/m3 against the baseline value 28 ug/m3, and is almost 18 times higher than the baseline value. This amount of NOx is enough to spark a reaction to produce ground-level ozone and then smog. To reduce NOx value,the following steps should be taken:

  • The use of personal vehicle should be avoided and public transport should be promoted.
  • The traffic police should implement maintaining of vehicles by checking them and find owners for non-maintenance.
  • The last but most important step is tree plantation. Massive tree plantation drives should be carried out in all of Punjab. The ecological study of the Lahore Division Master Plan has suggested the right kinds of plants that should be planted in the Lahore division.

WHO set the quality for PM (particulate matter) at less than 150 mcg per cubic meter, but the Lahore areas exceed this limit wherever the amount of PM is about 270 in winter days. The flow of traffic is the initial casualty of the foggy and smoggy weather that lowers the visibility level in the morning and evening to zero at highways and fewer than 200 meters at Allama Iqbal airport, bringing both road and air traffic to a halt. This case also leads to fatal road accidents in the province of Punjab. Other countries like China, America and Japan also face this smog or air pollution and they adapt to long term solutions such as:

CHINA:

Capital of China, Beijing is affected by PM 2.5. This size is extremely damaging because it can travel deep into the lungs. These particles can cause respiratory disorder, bronchitis, acute and respiratory symptoms.

To reduce air pollution,the Chinese government made laws and are working in many streams.

  1. The main goal of the plan is to reduce the coal construction by closing polluting mills, factories and switch to alternative eco-friendly energy sources.
  2. Focusing on the development of alternative energy sources like nuclear, hydro and compressed gas to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
    1. that monitors the air quality in a room (and act as a carbon monoxide detector as well as a hearth and smoke alarm)
  3. Electronic trees. A water filtration system to get rid of carbon dioxide and bacteria from the air. The super tree can purify up to 200,000 cubic meters of air per day.
  4. Building airtight domes. The sports dome that cover badminton courts and permits student to play sports without suffering the city’s pollution.

The US:

The government announces strong measures to cut back the CO2 emission having over 600 electric power stations.

  1. The state had cut down numerous coal-power plants and vehicles.
  2. Advancement in green technology.
  3. The management strategy tool supports the assessment of emission reductions.
  4. Weatherization assistance program.
  5. A project is started in which hydraulic fracturing boom technique is employed which helps in releasing less CO2 in to the earth’s atmosphere instead of coal or oil.

BRAZIL:

Measures taken by the government to reduce the air pollution are:

  1. Exploitation of load-free gasoline within the vehicles.
  2. Rising the standard of diesel by lowering its Sulphur content.
  3. A lot of fuel efficient vehicles are used like hybrid gas-electric vehicles.
  4. Adoption of biomass cook stoves with chimneys or use of LPG or natural gas that is free from PM 2.5.

JAPAN:

Measures taken by the government to reduce the air pollution are:

  1. Improving combustion in automobile engines and changing fuel to gasoline.
  2. Automobile NOx reduction (CNG) vehicles, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles, electric vehicle and hybrid vehicles are low emission vehicles that are promoted to use them in cars.

QATAR:

  1. The Sahara forest project: Although there is no Sahara in Qatar, the techniqueis to plant trees, bushes and bring sustainable water and energy designs like that of desert surrounding the city’s rural area.
  2. To reduce the desert temperatures, they tarp seawater and evaporate it in to the air so wet climate is generated. Due to this pollution level will be reduced in Qatar.

So, we have seen that the main reason for climate change is anthropogenic gas emission, and that it’s necessary to reduce the emissions and pressure exerted by the humans on the earth.

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