Journal of Hazardous Materials ( IF 9.038 ) Pub Date : 2020-09-15 , DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.123943 Muhammad Shehzaib Anjum; Syeda Mahnoor Ali; Emmad udDin; Muhammad Ahmed Subhani; Muhammad Naveed Anwar; Abdul-Sattar Nizami; Umar Ashraf; Muhammad Fahim Khokhar
This study, for the first time, aims to evaluate the situation of air quality in Pakistan critically; through a detailed assessment of sources, policies, and key challenges to identify the plausible way forward. Air pollution and particulate matter have merged as a global challenge in recent years because of its growing health and socio-economic risks. The intensity and impacts of these risks have become more pronounced, especially in developing countries like Pakistan that lack adequate warning, protection, and management systems. Various epidemiological studies have linked poor air quality with different health disorders and increasing death rates. In Pakistan, mortality rates as a result of exposure to increased levels of air pollutants, especially particulate matter, are alarming. According to the World Bank’s estimates, Pakistan’s annual burden of disease from outdoor air pollution is responsible for around 22,000 premature adult deaths and 163,432 DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) lost. The concentration of major air pollutants in Pakistan, such as NOx, O3, and SO2 have also been increasing significantly over the last two decades. Several studies are also reporting multiple instances of air quality around the major cities of Pakistan being consistently exceeding the national guidelines. The 2019 concentrations of PM2.5 around the city of Lahore revealed that almost every single day was in exceedance of the WHO and national air quality standards. Although the substantial effects of these rising pollutant concentrations in Pakistan have been stated in a few studies, however, the total extent, nature of contributing factors, and consequences remain inadequately understood. This study aims to use data available from monitoring stations, satellites, and literature to highlight the gaps in our understanding and emphasize the critical challenges associated with poor air quality faced in Pakistan. Topmost is the lack of air quality monitoring systems followed by poor initiatives by policymakers and enforcement agencies. A way forward while addressing these key challenges is also discussed, which focuses on the development of flexible monitoring, new technologies, and monitoring approaches in addition to communications among the various public, private agencies, and all relevant stakeholders.