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Country Spotlight


Pollution Ranking

4 out of 252 countries

44.73 Particulate Pollution (µg/m3)

3.89 Gain in life expectancy if WHO Guideline is met

WHO Guideline: µg/m3

15 National Standard

Pakistan does not have a National Standard for PM2.5 (µg/m3)

Pakistan is the world’s fourth most polluted country. Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) shortens the average Pakistani resident’s life expectancy by 3.9 years, relative to what it would be if the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline of 5 µg/m3 was met. Some areas of Pakistan fare much worse than average, with air pollution shortening lives by almost 7 years in the country’s most polluted regions like Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur and Peshawar.


  • All of Pakistan’s 238 million people live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds the WHO guideline; 98.3 percent of the population live in areas that exceed the country’s own national air quality standard of 15 µg/m3.
  • Measured in terms of life expectancy, particulate pollution is the second greatest threat to human health in Pakistan (behind cardiovascular diseases), taking 3.9 years off the life of the average Pakistani. In contrast, child and maternal malnutrition, and maternal and neonatal disorders reduce average life expectancy by 2.7 years.
  • Particulate pollution has increased over time. From 1998 to 2021, average annual particulate pollution increased by 49.9 percent, further reducing life expectancy by 1.5 years.
  • In the most polluted provinces of the country—Punjab, Islamabad Capital Territory and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—165.5 million residents or 69.5 percent of Pakistan’s population are on track to lose between 3.7 to 4.6 years of life expectancy on average relative to the WHO guideline and between 2.7 to 3.6 years relative to the national standard if the current pollution levels persist.


[1] This data is based on the AQLI 2021 dataset. All annual average PM2.5 values (measured in micrograms per cubic meter: µg/m³) are population weighted.

[2] We define Karachi as the following six regions: Central Karachi, East Karachi, Korangi Karachi, Malir Karachi, South Karachi and West Karachi.

The Index

The AQLI converts air pollution concentrations into their impact on life expectancy. From this, the public and policymakers alike can determine the benefits of air pollution policies in perhaps the most important measure that exists: longer lives.

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The AQLI estimates the relationship between air pollution and life expectancy, allowing users to view the gain in life expectancy they could experience if their community met World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, national standards or some other standard.

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