Before we discuss smog, we need to understand what this is actually. Basically, smog is a mixture of smoke and fog that usually comes from burning coal. It mostly surrounds industrial areas but now, with rapid installation of industrial units in urban areas, it is seen in densely populated cities as well.
Currently, the kind of smog we are witnessing in most of the cities is photochemical smog. Since the weather has taken a shift to winters, almost all the news channels are warning the citizens against smog and advising everybody to take precautions while travelling. Traffic controllers are playing their role in it by imposing fine on the vehicles with poor engines as they cause pollution to the environment. But the question is ‘is it enough to control this problem?’
A big No! You know the quality of air in Lahore has deteriorated to the hazardous levels putting additional burden on the healthcare system as there is already a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Recently, Switzerland-based air quality index IQair has declared Lahore the second most polluted city after New Delhi, India’s capital. Overall, according to the stats, Lahore has been currently ranked as the fourth most polluted city in the world, preceded by Beijing, Delhi and Mumbai.
Pollution increases drastically in winters when farmers burn the straw stubble in the fields. Rest is done by the winds as they spread the pollution around the region.
On November 11, 2020, the air quality of Lahore was at hazardous level but by mid of the day the situation improved by stopping the smoke-emitting vehicles from running on the roads and shutting down the brick kilns across Punjab.
Not so far, Lahore was once called as the city of gardens and was pollution free. Even this year in March when the government imposed lockdown due to COVID-19 and the load of vehicles was a bit low and industries stopped working the quality of air improved in a few months. When lockdown was lifted in May and vehicles were back on the road and industries started working again, the air quality started deteriorating again to an alarming level.
Cars are top pollutants in Lahore; industry furnaces are at number two and then Punjab’s famous brick kilns.
Serious consequences of smog
Cough, throat infections and irritation in eyes are the common effects of smog but it is also expected in the coming weeks that the environment might become worst if strict action is not taken against the pollutants.
How can we contribute to a healthy environment?
Education starts from home. We should plant tress as much as we can and we should stop burning garbage around us. We should complain against those who do so in our surroundings. In this type of weather, travel only when it is necessary and wear mask; s it will not only help in cleaning the environment but we will also least prone to coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is also concerned about the second wave of coronavirus as it may hit the cities with high levels of pollution.
So, this is the time when are supposed to act as responsible citizens by playing our individual role in lessening the spread of this smoky fog.