Have you ever wondered what you would do if the air you breathe becomes toxic or the air on which your life depends begins to kill you. You can filter your drinking water before you use it, but who will filter your air?
Last Friday, smog levels reached dangerous levels as Faisalabad and Lahore topped the index of the world’s most polluted cities, followed by New Delhi. Pakistan’s metropolitan city has been facing this problem for the past 4 to 5 years due to the formation of smog, also called “surface ozone”. The term may be new to Pakistan, but it was first used in the 1900s when the city of London was covered in huge clouds of smoke, known as the Great Smog of London. Ozone is formed in winter due to the fact that conditions that favors ozone is present only in winter. It is a secondary pollutant that is not actually emitted directly into the air. In fact, it is a reaction between primary pollutants such as NOx and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
The plumes of these contaminants released into the air from coal power plants, brick kilns, vehicles emissions and other industrial activities. However, the burning of agriculture leftover to prepare the land for next season crops also contributed to the smog formation. But this contribution is far less than emissions from traffic congestion and brick kilns in the big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad. There are more than 19000 brick kilns in the country.
The smog not only reduces visibility but it also a health hazard for people especially for those having lung diseases and have deadly impact on corona patients . Smog can cause asthma, chronic bronchitis and other lung diseases and affect eyes. Alongside this, it also causes damage to crops and plants. Ozone, which is present in the stratosphere, is known as “good ozone” because it filters out ultraviolet radiation that would otherwise cause skin cancer when it reaches the ground.
Pakistan Environmental Performance in terms of ozone ranked at 178 out of 180 in the world. Industrial and automotive emissions are major sectors that cause smog in urban areas. Therefore, the best way for the government to deal with the smog problem is to limit emissions from these sectors. This can be done by adopting innovative technologies and environmentally friendly consumer products in industries. In the case of vehicles, the maintenance of their cars and motorbikes is fundamental. However, the government recently took action against brick klins and forced them to install zigzag technology on their furnace chambers, which is a good move. On the other hand, the government should also force automobile manufacturers to make their vehicles more efficient.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.