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The Causes and Effects of Smog

Smog is a type of air pollutant.

The word “smog” was coined in the early 20th century as a blending of the words smoke and fog to refer to smoky fog, its opacity, and odor.

Smog also has few types.

At least two distinct types of smog are recognized: sulfurous smog and photo-chemical smog. Sulfurous smog, which is also called “London smog,” results from a high concentration of sulfur oxides in the air and is caused by the use of sulfur-bearing fossil fuels, particularly coal.

Photo-chemical smog is produced when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides and at least one volatile organic compound (VOC) in the atmosphere.

Nitrogen oxides come from car exhaust, coal power plants, and factory emissions. VOCs are released from gasoline, paints, and many cleaning solvents.

Smog is a devastating problem especially due to the fast modernization or industrialization as the hazardous chemicals involved in smog formation are highly reactive is spread around in the atmosphere.

Now let us highlight some of its effects.

Smog can cause or aggravate health problems such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory problems as well as eye irritation and reduced resistance to colds and lung infections.

The ozone in smog also inhibits plant growth and can cause widespread damage to crops and forests.Overall, smog is harmful to both the respiratory (lungs) and cardiovascular (heart) systems. Even at low levels, ground level ozone and fine particulate matter are harmful.

Smog is a type of air pollution which is most important problem of the recent times for developed as well as developing countries.

From Asia to the Middle East to the Americas, here’s a look at the worst cities for bad air, Ulan Bator (Mongolia) ,Lahore(Pakistan), New Delhi(India),Riyadh( Saudi Arabia) Cairo(Egypt),Dhaka(Bangladesh),Moscow(Russia) ,Mexico City(Mexico). The smog in Mexico City is made worse by the geographical location.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it can be dangerous to breathe in too much smog. Smog contains a pollutant called ozone, and elevated ozone levels can have a variety of negative effects on your lungs.

Lahore has experienced smog for the past five or six years: in 2014, it ranked amongst the top 10 worst cities for smog according to a Deutsche Welle report.

Lahore is a semi-industrial city comprising small and large-scale industrial units. Heavy traffic and on-going mega projects such as the Orange Line together produce significant pollution throughout the year.

In the surrounding cities of Kasur, Sheikhupura and Pindi Bhattian, around November, farmers burn their agricultural leftover sending a lot of smoke into the atmosphere. Crop residue can be disposed of in a sustainable way, but the cost is too high for the farming community.

The combined smoke from industries, traffic and crop-burning is normally washed away when it rains in winter, but this year, due to an early winter and no rain, this pollution and smoke has converted into smog causing low visibility and health issues for the residents.

As South Asia’s most urbanized country, Pakistan contends with increasing challenges from the increase in motor vehicles in cities. In the last decade, more than 11m cars appeared on the roads in Pakistan’s most populous province, representing a growth of almost 30%, according to a report from the

Punjab environmental protection department (EPD). Although the environmental body has recommended the government mandate low-sulphur diesel and increase higher public transport use, these results have been slow to materialise.

Pakistan has no real-time air quality monitoring system for on-site monitoring of its polluted cities.

The most important cause according to NASA is burning of rice stubbles sending smog to the Pakistan. On the other hand, fires and thermal anomalies by Indian Punjab near Pakistani border polluting air seriously as a result dense smoke spread nearby areas.

Excessive crackers in Diwali celebrations across the border are also one of the chief reasons for spreading large amount of pollutants in the air at the outset of winter.

It is not easy to eradicate this type of pollution but we can adopt certain precautionary measure to avoid the health hazards of smog:

  • We should minimize going outdoors
  • Keep your windows close and spend most of your time at home
  • Avoid exercising in smoggy conditions, particularly at midday when ground ozone levels are at their highest
  • Carry inhaler if you are asthmatic patient. If you notice any rapid deterioration in your condition, please consult your doctor.
  • Please wear your mask on the roads when you are on the bike or walking
  • Try and keep children indoors and do not let them play outside

It is important to note that smog affects everyone differently, and some people are more susceptible to its negative effects.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan there is no any air quality monitoring facility so that we can timely aware the masses about the dangerous effects of air pollution, in this regard Government of Pakistan should take necessary steps.

It is the fundamental right of every Pakistani to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. It is the right of every working man and woman to be able to get to work and home again without getting sick. It is the right of every child to play outdoors without acquiring respiratory disease.

According to Economic Survey of Pakistan, oil consumption of the country has been increased. In Pakistan, we need to minimize the major source of air pollution:

We should minimize the smoke emission of vehicles, and smoke from industries, burning of solid waste

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.