Home Entertainment Pakistan ranked 2nd most polluted country in 2023

Pakistan ranked 2nd most polluted country in 2023

Pakistan ranked 2nd most polluted country in 2023


A view of heavy smog in morning hours, in the provincial capital Lahore. — Online/File
  • Pakistani cities record PM2.5 levels exceed WHO guidelines by six folds.
  • Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Faisalabad report worst air quality.
  • Crop burning, smoke from brick kilns named as contributing factors.

Like many South Asian countries Pakistan has been facing an alarming surge in pollution indicators with the country having one of the worst air quality in the world.

As per IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company, Pakistan maintained the second worst air quality in the year 2023 with an average PM2.5 concentration of 73.7 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m³).

IQAir measures air quality levels based on the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles known as PM2.5 which shouldn’t exceed 5μg/m³ Health Organisation (WHO).

Screengrab of graphs showing air quality levels in Pakistan. — IQAir
Screengrab of graphs showing air quality levels in Pakistan. — IQAir

As per the report, the PM2.5 levels in Islamabad rose to their highest ever levels recorded in the city’s seven-year history to 42.4μg/m³.

Meanwhile, Lahore, which was recorded as the world’s most polluted city in the world in March 2023, has also witnessed an increase of over 20μg/m³ in its PM2.5 levels which have reached 99.5µg/m3 with the city’s monthly average of PM2.5 level reaching 251µg/m3 in November last year leading to the courts directing the government to impose a “smog emergency” in the provincial capital.

“Every city in Pakistan included in the 2023 report measured concentrations above 30µg/m3, at least six times the recommended WHO annual PM2.5 guideline,” the report said.

Apart from Lahore, several other cities including Faisalabad, Karachi, Peshawar and Rawalpindi have also recorded significantly high PM2.5 levels compared to the WHO guidelines

As per the report, multiple factors contributed towards such hazardous levels of air quality including crop burning stubble, deforestation, industrial and vehicle emissions, smoke emitted from brick kilns etc.

Owing to the alarming situation, the government even imposed a lockdown in multiple cities across Punjab in the wake of thick smog that engulfed several districts.

In December 2023, Lahore even witnessed the country’s first-ever artificial rain after planes equipped with cloud-seeding equipment flew over the city’s 10 areas to battle the dangerous air quality levels in the metropolis.

Pakistan’s average PM2.5 levels are only exceeded by Bangladesh’s 79.9μg/m³. Meanwhile, India is ranked third with 54.4μg/m³ PM2.5 levels.


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