Air quality unhealthy increases health risks in federal capital

ISLAMABAD:The ambient air quality of the federal capital has been recorded unhealthy that has increased health risks for sensitive groups.

The hazardous pollutants of particulate matter of 2.5 microns has exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) standards as the ambient air quality in the federal capital is recorded worse in the federal capital.

According to air quality report released by Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) have not only exceeded the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) of 35 micrograms per meter cube (mg/m³) rather also the World Health Organization (WHO) fine particulate matter of 2.5 microns 24 hours mean of 25 micrograms per meter cube.

The pollution level comprising particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) has exceeded the permissible ratio of 35 micrograms per cubic meter (mg/m³) which is recorded 38.68 mg/m³, in the federal capital after repeated highest ratio of PM2.5.

World Health Organization (WHO) in it’s reports had 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.

According to the daily ambient air quality report of the federal capital by Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 24 hours average ratio of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2) were 20.92 micrograms per cubic meter (mg/ m³) and 14.99 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.

However, the air quality index (AQI) developed by AirNow in the United States such level of PM2.5 pollution was considered to be dangerous for sensitive groups that include people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children were among the groups at risk. According to AQI health effects statements, increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly could occur in case exposure in unhealthy with the above mentioned pollutant ratio.

Moreover, the general public as per the advisories under AQI especially people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.