A new study has found that Peshawar city faces high levels of air pollution. The air pollution levels, particularly, in the winter months place the city among the world’s most polluted cities. In terms of health impact, it affects at least five million people, increasing public health costs and reducing human development achievement.
The age of city dwellers is decreasing by at least two to three years because of high levels of air pollution. Low interest is behind lack of capacity for monitoring air pollution.
This Status of Air Pollution in Peshawar (SAPP) report has been produced by the Peshawar Clean Air Alliance (PCAA)
A study published last month suggests that air pollution in Peshawar reduces life expectancy in the provincial capital by 2.3 years. There appears to be a correlation between a higher particulate matter in air and deteriorating health conditions which result in a reduction in life expectancy. The report – ‘Status of air pollution in Peshawar’ – launched by the Peshawar Clean Air Alliance says that life expectancy has a direct relation with the level of particulate matter (PM) in the air. The guidelines that the WHO circulates sends a clear message that if PM 2.5 meets the WHO level, it will make a huge difference to health conditions, especially to respiratory ailments that are one of the most common causes of various other diseases There are at least two major causes of this pollution in major cities of Pakistan. First is the smoke that emanates from commercial and industrial centers and from the burning of waste in streets and residential areas. Due to inefficient garbage disposal mechanisms, the waste piles up and people end up burning it to reduce stench and putrefaction. Then there is also carbon emission from vehicles that hardly have an up-to-date fitness certificate. There are also unregulated brick kilns that spew toxic fumes in the air; not only do labourers working there have no protective gears, inhabitants in the surrounding areas also end up inhaling the smoke filled air. As urbanization is increasing in Pakistan, climate change is impacting both rural and urban populations. Modern air monitoring systems that most other countries are already using are not in vogue in Pakistan. Federal and provincial governments keep taking it lightly and despite tall claims, the air quality keeps deteriorating. Since we now have Sherry Rehman as the new minister for climate change, we hope the government procures state-of-the-art air monitoring systems that can provide real-time data about air quality at least in all the major cities of Pakistan.
The country needs long-term planning to tackle this issue and proper database management will play a crucial role in air quality management. If relevant departments do not maintain past data, future planning is likely to fail. The report also highlights the fact that Peshawar has an unenviable distinction of being the third most polluted city in Pakistan and the ninth across the globe. The primary challenges in the city are related to the emissions from the transport and domestic sector, while certain industries require mitigation as well, particularly kilns and furnaces. It is pertinent to mention here that the Peshawar has been declared as the third most polluted city in Pakistan and the ninth most polluted in the world, in the 2021 World Air Quality report. Over the past decade, air quality has deteriorated, which is consistent with observations in other major urban centres in Pakistan.
The age of city dwellers is decreasing by at least two to three years because of high levels of air
pollution. Low interest is behind lack of capacity for monitoring air pollution.