Facemasks had become our permanent face wear even before the advent of the coronavirus, thanks to the advent of the fifth textbook season – smog.
As the winter season approaches, people in Pakistan are facing severe health issues due to smog. Lahore has been deemed the second most polluted city in the world, just one place below New Delhi, which has topped the list. The term smog came into existence in the 1900s when, due to pollution from the industries in the west, the mixture of smoke and fog reduced visibility and caused several respiratory issues in people. At the time, the global south had clean air, while western countries, especially industrialized England, faced this grave issue. However, the Clean Air Act was passed in the mid-1900s, which established smoke-free areas in the country and the burning of coal was restricted. This issue is rampant in many countries of the global south. Pakistan and India, unfortunately, are in the forefront.
Smog has been descending annually in November and December in Lahore and the surrounding areas for the past few years. Even flights to Lahore have to be canceled because of how thick it is. Due to poor air quality and a significant increase in pollution from factories and vehicles over the past five years, this smog has worsened significantly. Rapid industrialization and tree-cutting have not improved the situation, and the development-focused authorities would be wise to take note of this. Today, Lahore is regarded as one of Asia’s most polluted cities. Due to rain, cold spells, and dry conditions, all pollutants have a tendency to gather in the lower levels of the atmosphere during the winter. Experts claim that given their reliance on coal use, factories in Eastern Punjab of India are also to blame. The emissions and pollutants from there travel across the border and exacerbate the situation here.
The cases of respiratory diseases are exponentially increasing. For those who were already asthmatic, this season becomes a chore to live in. Those who were not asthmatic now have triggered asthma caused by the smog. Respiratory diseases are dangerous and they become a hindrance in the daily lives of people. Young school-going children are unable to focus on their studies, while adults cannot focus on their work. This eventually decreases their productivity. The elderly, who enjoyed going out on walks, is now restricted to their rooms, and this is also having a negative effect on their health. In order to stay away from the smog, people are restricting themselves to their houses, and this has led to a new wave of sedentary lifestyles, which will result in further health issues in the long run, for both adults and children.
Therefore, it is crucial for everyone to play a part in order to reduce smog. People should opt to travel by public transportation or carpooling so that fewer cars are needed. Moreover, cars should be taken care of by regular tune-ups and oil changes. Inflating tires to an adequate level can also improve mileage and reduce emissions. Additionally, people should get their fuel tanks filled during the cooler hours of the day in order to prevent the heating up of fuel and the production of ozone. Lastly, electric-powered equipment should be used instead of gas-powered.
The issue of smog is very real and is impacting the lives of people heavily. The government and media must launch awareness campaigns to educate people. Moreover, laws must be made such as the Clean Air Act in order to fix this situation as soon as possible.