In Pakistan, air pollution shortens lives by up to 4 years.


KARACHI: According to the most recent Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, an increase in air pollution in Pakistan, particularly in heavily polluted urban areas, could result in a potential reduction of up to four years in life expectancy.

According to the annual report from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, residents of cities like Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, and Peshawar could potentially lose up to four years of their lives.

According to the index, which measures the impact of air pollution on life expectancy, cardiovascular diseases are the biggest threat to public health in Pakistan, with particulate pollution coming in at number two.

The report predicts that the increase in pollution will also increase the prevalence of a number of mental health conditions like chronic anxiety, seasonal depression, and mood disorders.

AQLI report classifies Bangladesh as top polluted country; New Delhi emerges as ‘most polluted megacity’

South Asia is the region that suffers the most severely on a global scale. According to annualized, population-weighted averages of fine particulate matter detected by satellites, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan—home to nearly a quarter of the world’s population—are the regions with the most pollution.

The 240 million people who make up Pakistan’s population all live in areas where the average annual level of particulate pollution exceeds the standards established by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to these standards, particulate matter (PM) 2.5 annual average concentrations shouldn’t be higher than five micrograms per cubic meter, and 24-hour average exposures shouldn’t be higher than 15 micrograms per cubic meter more than three to four days per year.

Around 98.3 per cent of the country’s populace lives in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds Pakistan’s national air quality standard as well as WHO guidelines for air pollution.

According to the report, residents of Punjab, Islamabad, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are projected to experience a decline in life expectancy ranging from 3.7 to 4.6 years on average if current pollution levels persist.

The AQLI report also reveals that Pakistan’s average annual particulate pollution increased by 49.9 percent between 1998 and 2021, which decreased life expectancy by 1.5 years.

According to the report, if Pakistan followed the WHO recommendation, people in Karachi might see a three-year increase in life expectancy, while people in Lahore might see an eight-year increase and people in Islamabad might see an increase of about five years.

Global impact

According to the index, Bangladesh is the nation with the worst air quality in the entire world. The report also notes that since 2013, India has been accountable for about 59% of the increase in pollution worldwide.

If PM2.5 levels in Bangladesh, where they were on average 74 micrograms per cubic meter, were brought into compliance with the WHO recommendation of 5 micrograms per cubic metre, people would live 6.8 years longer.

Meanwhile, New Delhi holds the inauspicious title of “world’s most polluted megacity”, characterised by an annual average particulate pollution level of 126.5 micrograms per cubic metre, AFP reported.

Conversely, China has made significant strides in combatting air pollution since 2014.

The country has witnessed a notable reduction of 42.3pc in air pollution levels between 2013 and 2021. If these improvements are maintained, the average Chinese citizen could potentially gain an additional 2.2 years of life.

In the US, actions like the Clean Air Act have increased life expectancy by 1.4 years and reduced pollution by 64.9% since 1970. But the report found that as wildfires increase in number due to climate change, pollution levels spike from the American West to Latin America and Southeast Asia.


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