Unhealthy air quality in capital poses health risks

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The air quality in the Federal capital was reported unhealthy on Monday amid dry weather putting vulnerable and sensitive age groups comprising children, women and the elderly at risk of contracting respiratory ailments.

Air pollution in the metropolis remained high since the onset of the fall season as prolonged dry weather, increased vehicular traffic, and garbage and wood burning continued to surge. The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) daily air quality report indicated a heightened ratio of air pollutants, recorded above permissible limits, and the air quality was unhealthy.

The agency is responsible to ensure the protection of the environment under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997. The hazardous air pollutant particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5), which was a hazardous atmospheric contaminant, remained at 44 micro grammes per cubic meter on average which was higher than the NEQS of 35 mic-programmes per cubic meter and denoted the air quality unhealthily.

PM2.5 is generated through the combustion of an engine, industrial emissions, burning garbage or inflammable material and dust blown up by fast-moving cars plying on non-cemented patches of the roads. Senior Pulmonologist at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Dr Zia Ul Haq, told APP that dry and cold air was mainly the reason behind respiratory diseases during winter.

He said the respiratory tract of an individual, consisting of throat and lungs, has internal surfaces possessing normal bacteria and no breach in it. However, he said, increased exposure of an individual to dry and cold air at different phases in outdoors causes breaches in the lining of the respiratory tract which leads to an infection and also damages the normal secretions taking place inside the breathing organs.

He said the pulmonologists usually advise the elderly above 50 years of age or patients of chronic heart, kidney, and lung diseases to get the flu vaccine during the peak winter season to avoid respiratory diseases. The senior pulmonologists said the people were also advised to avoid unnecessary prolonged outdoor visits during the morning and evening timings of cold weather whereas in case of any visit, they should properly cover their eyes, and face by wearing face masks and coverings.

Moreover, he also directed the masses to ensure the intake of warm fluids as necessary beverages like warm water and hot tea, etc to control damage to the respiratory tract amid bad weather and air quality.(APP)