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In the News

November 18, 2019

‘If You Haven’t Seen Lahore…’

An article from Dawn on Pakistan's air pollution cites EPIC's Air Quality Life Index analysis that found Pakistani's lives are cut short by more than 2 years.
By
Ahmad Rafay Alam

It took some trial and error.

Over the last four years, my family and I sealed our windows with duct tape and put rubber strips on the bottoms of doors to keep the polluted air out. We invested in air purifiers and monitors to keep track of the quality of the air indoors. Through these efforts, we were able to keep harmful outdoor air pollution from seeping inside. But the air quality outdoors remains abysmally low. To deal with this, we bought masks. The masks elicit stares from passersby, but they are essential when commuting.

The cumulative effect of these little measures has been remarkable. Other than a brief flu a fortnight ago, no one in the house or workplace has suffered from any health issues. And no one has taken a day off from work or school other than on November 6, when the Punjab government was forced to shut down schools because the Air Quality Index was too high.

But such individual steps can only go so far. Air pollution needs to be tamed and before that can happen, it needs to be understood.

In Pakistan, there is a shocking dearth of research on the impacts of air pollution on human health. There are, however, notable exceptions. For example, a 2019 analysis by the Air Quality Life Index produced by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago showed that long-term exposure to particulate matter air pollution was reducing the average Pakistani’s life by “more than two years.” And a 2018 study commissioned by Air Quality Asia, and carried out by Dr Junaid Rashid and Dr Shazia Manzur of Lahore’s Children’s Hospital, shows a spike in admissions for lung-related ailments during the smog season.

Continue Reading at Dawn…