15 April | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Insights, strategies for Lahore, other mega cities to address toxic air pollution

Environmental health and safety expert Faisal Majeed suggests substantial investment, sustainable solutions to target root causes of air pollution

A bustling mega city housing an estimated population of 12-13 million, Lahore grapples with severe air pollution concerns, especially evident in the winter months. The pervasive smog not only poses immediate health risks such as respiratory issues and eye irritation but also exacerbates existing conditions like asthma.

Additionally, air pollution contributes to broader environmental problems like reduced visibility, harm to vegetation, and ecosystem disruption. At times, the city management resorts to declaring school and public holidays to mitigate the health impacts of this smog. About the nature of smog and viable measures to alleviate its effects on mega cities, environmental health and safety expert Faisal Majeed highlighted that air pollution stems from human activities like industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust, and the combustion of fossil fuels.

In densely populated mega cities undergoing rapid industrialization, he said that the concentration of pollutants escalates, resulting in a spectrum of health issues ranging from respiratory problems to more serious concerns like cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Simultaneously, he pointed out that it poses a threat to ecosystems, crops, and overall well-being, underscoring urgency for sustainable solutions. While the government’s recent adoption of cloud seeding to induce artificial rains signifies a step towards addressing the issue, it remains a reactive measure, he said.

Faisal Majeed says there is a need to reduce emissions, promote cleaner technologies, and foster comprehensive urban planning to mitigate air pollution, smog
Faisal Majeed says there is a need to reduce emissions, promote cleaner technologies, and foster comprehensive urban planning to mitigate air pollution, smog

“There’s a pressing need for a shift in focus, with more concerted efforts directed towards proactive and preventive measures,” Faisal Majeed suggested. “This shift requires substantial investment, dedicated time, and energy towards sustainable, long-term solutions that target the root causes of air pollution in Lahore,” he said, adding that initiatives centered on reducing emissions, promoting cleaner technologies, and fostering comprehensive urban planning strategies were crucial for mitigating the recurrent challenges posed by air pollution and smog.

He emphasized discrepancy between the World Health Organization’s safe PM2.5 level and the significantly higher average levels observed in megacities. Despite this, he shared a silver lining – a global trend showcasing improving air quality in numerous megacities worldwide such as Beijing and Delhi. He said that Lahore could adopt and adapt similar best practices to achieve comparable outcomes. Highlighting successful progress made in Beijing, he advocated for Pakistan to leverage its close ties with the Chinese government.

He said that Beijing’s advancements in clean energy investments, improved waste management, and stringent emissions standards serve as instructive examples. Furthermore, Faisal Majeed stressed significance of global collaboration in combating air pollution, emphasizing its trans-boundary nature. He urged the federal government to forge partnerships with established consultants and firms renowned for implementing large-scale air quality enhancement projects. “A healthier nation is a more productive one,” he said while highlighting integral relationship between health and national productivity.