EPA blames dust for haze in Lahore

Agency claims ongoing construction projects contribute to haze in Township area

Picture source- AFP

Lahore and its adjoining districts on Thursday observed another hazy day due to smog, owing to a high concentration of pollutants in the air.

Despite the presence of dust and smoke in the atmosphere in the morning hours, Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed it was not smog. The air quality index (AQI) reading shared by EPA for Thursday morning in Township was 399, which depicted how unhealthy the air quality was in the city. The Punjab environment minister expressed concern over the high AQI, saying it was due to the negligence of city administration, which had not controlled dust.

Due to severe pressure of courts and other quarters, Punjab EPA has been monitoring air quality in different areas of the city on a random basis, despite a lack of air monitoring equipment. Talking to Minute Mirror, EPA Deputy Director and an in-charge of air monitoring stations Farooq Alam said that the reason behind the high AQI was high concentration of dust particles in the air, which was a particulate matter. He said that the agency was directed to focus on measuring PM2.5 parameters while EPA’s monitors were also fit to monitor this very parameter in the ambient air.

Talking about the high AQI in the Township area, Alam said that this was because of ongoing construction work in the area that caused high concentration of PM2.5 due to dust. “No doubt it was a hazy day in the city but this could not be called smog because smog consists of high presence of other pollutants, including carbon monoxide (CO), nitrous oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ground level ozone (O3),” he said, adding that at the said location the agency could only monitor PM2.5, while looking at another nearby spot in Township the AQI based on CO monitoring was 146.

“Factors other than dust that contribute to smog are emissions from vehicles and industry, which the EPA, with the help of other departments, is trying to control,” Alam Added. Currently, several construction projects are underway in the city, which are the major contributors to air pollution in the city. These projects are Gulab Devi Hospital underpass, Shahkam Flyover, Sheranwala Gate underpass, and repair of roads in Township.

Samiullah Randhawa is a correspondent covering environment, climate change, food, water and ecology. He is an International Center For Journalists alumnus and a fellow at Kettering Foundation Ohio, USA. He has won two Agahi Awards for reporting on climate change and water crisis. He tweets @sami_randhawa and can be reached at samiullahfarid@gmail.com.

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