Alarming PM2.5 Levels in Lahore during Smog Season: A Persistent Threat to Public Health and Environment, Study by Prof. Farrukh and Dr. Khwaja Reveals

Alarming PM2.5 Levels in Lahore during Smog Season: A Persistent Threat to Public Health and Environment, Study by Prof. Farrukh and Dr. Khwaja Reveals

Principal investigators:  

  • Prof. Dr. Muhammad Akhyar Farrukh, University of Central Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Dr. Haider A. Khwaja, University at Albany, State University of New York, USA

The city of Lahore is grappling with dangerously high levels of PM2.5 particulate matter, as evidenced by recent findings from a collaborative research project conducted by Prof. Dr. Muhammad Akhyar Farrukh from the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Central Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan, and Dr. Haider A. Khwaja from Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, New York, USA. This research project, titled “Air Pollution Monitoring of PM2.5 in Lahore, Pakistan during Smog,” investigates the causes of smog and its effects on residents’ health. The troubling data has underscored a severe public health crisis, with particulate air pollution regularly exceeding safe limits.

In preliminary findings, it was found that Lahore’s air quality is alarmingly poor, with PM2.5 levels often surpassing 300 µg/m³. The average concentration of PM2.5 was recorded at a staggering 262 µg/m³. The lowest recorded value was 116 µg/m³ on November 25, 2022 and highest concentration reached a perilous 420 µg/m³ on January 10, 2023. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set a 24-hour air quality guideline for PM2.5 at 15 µg/m³. Lahore’s mean concentrations exceed this guideline by a factor of 7.7 to 28, highlighting the severity of the air pollution problem.

Key Findings:

  • Consistently High Pollution Levels: Lahore experiences extremely elevated PM2.5 levels almost daily.
  • Dangerous Peaks: Pollution spikes regularly, sometimes exceeding 300 µg/m³.
  • Average Concentrations: Mean PM2.5 concentration is 262 µg/m³.
  • Extremes Recorded: The highest PM2.5 concentration was 420 µg/m³ on January 10, 2023, and the lowest was 116 µg/m³ on November 25, 2022.
  • WHO Guideline Exceedance: The city’s PM2.5 levels are 7.7 to 28 times higher than the WHO recommended limit of 15 µg/m³.

The implications of such high pollution levels are dire. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) poses serious health risks, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and can lead to premature death. The persistent exceedance of WHO guidelines indicates that immediate and effective measures are required to combat this escalating public health emergency.

Lahore’s residents are urged to take precautions, especially during high pollution days, and authorities must prioritize air quality management to mitigate these hazardous conditions. The data calls for urgent action to protect the health of citizens and ensure a cleaner, healthier future for Lahore.

The principal investigators would like to thank Dr. Kamran Khan of the University of Karachi for the initial visit and the sampling setup, Dr. Nimra Afzal of the University of Central Punjab for the sampling, and Jeanchretien Goundo from the University at Albany for the sample analysis.