Citizens advised to wear masks as air quality goes unhealthy

ISLAMABAD, Feb 10 (APP): The federal capital residents Monday were advised to wear pollution masks to avoid harmful impact of air pollution as air quality was unhealthy due to dry weather and rising vehicular emissions.

According to Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) daily air quality report, the hazardous pollutant ratio of particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) was recorded beyond safer limits.

The pollution level comprising particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) was above the permissible ratio of 35 micrograms per cubic meter (mg/m³) and was recorded 75.87 mg/m³, one of the highest ratio noticed in the federal capital.

World Health Organization (WHO) in it’s reports of 2015 claimed air pollution to cause huge number of premature deaths. PM 2.5 had been found hazardous pollutant which could penetrate into human blood through lungs cells.

The report mentioned that the 24 hours average concentrations of Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2) were noticed below the permissible limits of National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) whereas concentration of PM2.5 was within safe limit of NEQS.

The daily ambient air quality report of the federal capital by Pakistan-EPA, the 24 hours average ratio of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2) were 25.66micrograms per cubic meter (mg/ m³) and 32.35 mg/m³ respectively against the respective National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) of 80 mg/m³ and 120mg/m³.

The data was recorded by calibrated air quality monitors fixed at particular positions with proper readings.

However, concentrations of PM2.5 during the day and evening times were recorded slightly high, whereas the overall ambient air quality of the federal capital was not healthier today.

Any other data from any source presenting ambient air quality of Islamabad was neither verified nor approved by the PAK-EPA, the report said.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Spokesperson Dr Waseem Khawaja told APP that pollution masks were necessary to avoid health issues due to air pollution as children, elderly and pregnant women were highly at risk in case of very unhealthy air quality.

The students and persons traveling on motorbikes should wear masks and sunglasses as dust and pollutants in air directly affect their respiratory system and eyes. “The situation is not very dangerous, however, preventive measures were necessary to avoid any major health complications,” he added.

He added that patients of ear, nose and throat issues had frequent visits in the hospital as dry weather was prevailing in the metropolis.

A recent study by US-China team of scientists had revealed that efforts to decrease particulate matter of 2.5 microns size (PM2.5) was unwittingly producing more harmful pollutants called Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) where Electric Vehicles could help reduce the risk as both the pollutants were released from vehicular combustion.

According to a recent report published on the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) website titled “Remarkable nucleation and growth of ultrafine particles from vehicular exhaust”, the recent study had made a detailed analysis of particle creation in different environments of the urban areas.

Almost, many of the urban cities around the world were facing the crisis of air pollution or bad, unhealthy air quality due to increased pollutant ratio and exceeding ratio of health hazardous air toxins mainly due to rising vehicular emissions.

The UFPs were more miniscule in size as they were recorded less than 50 nanometers in diameter. “The reduction in PM2.5 is generating UFPs as heavy air pollutants like PM2.5 used to absorb these extremely minute particles that in its absence proliferate into the air,” the report said.

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