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Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups|| 116 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 41.8 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Muridke air is currently 8.4 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Thursday, Dec 2|
Unhealthy 165 US AQI
|Friday, Dec 3|
Unhealthy 159 US AQI
|Saturday, Dec 4|
Unhealthy 163 US AQI
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 116 US AQI
|Monday, Dec 6|
Unhealthy 162 US AQI
|Tuesday, Dec 7|
Unhealthy 159 US AQI
|Wednesday, Dec 8|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 148 US AQI
|Thursday, Dec 9|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 148 US AQI
|Friday, Dec 10|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 128 US AQI
|Saturday, Dec 11|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 143 US AQI
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Muridke is a city located in the province of Punjab in Pakistan, situated on a route known as the Grand Trunk Road, an ancient road that has linked many cities throughout central Asia all the way down to the Indian subcontinent. In current times, it is unfortunately subject to some rather poor levels of air pollution, with readings of the various measures of air quality making it come in amongst the most polluted cities worldwide. This also holds true for much of Pakistan and many of its neighboring countries, with others such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India taking the top spots for highest pollution levels on the world circuit.
Observing the current data collected in April of 2021, it can be seen that the city is subject to fluctuating levels of air pollution, with certain days actually coming in with fairly appreciable readings of US AQI (the main measure of air pollution, calculated using a number of different pollutants present in the air). Some days presented with readings as low as 33 on the US AQI list, which would put Muridke into the ‘good’ air quality ratings bracket for that particular day.
However, when looking at surrounding days, it can be seen that these good air quality readings are offset by massive spikes in air pollution, with numbers such as 158 being present at the end of March, putting the city into the ‘unhealthy’ air quality bracket. This is indicative that Muridke could have vastly improved air quality, yet is allowing certain practices to go on without proper pollution regulation, and is thus suffering from these pollutive side effects as a result.
Over the course of 2020, Muridke came in with a PM2.5 reading of 61.6 μg/m³, placing it in the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 55.5 and 150.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. As the name suggests, this level of air pollution carries with it severe risks for those who breathe it for prolonged periods of time, and can affect those who are subject to it for even shorter lengths of time, with a whole host of respiratory issues presenting themselves, including ones such as pneumonia, bronchitis and aggravated forms of asthma (among others).
This yearly PM2.5 reading of 61.6 μg/m³ placed Muridke in 43rd place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 5th place out of all cities ranked in Pakistan. With such a poor ranking, the city has a long way to go before it sees adequate improvement in its air quality, with the health of its citizens being at stake.
There are many different sources of air pollution taking place within the city limits, with a majority of them finding their creation from various combustion sources. These can range from vehicle engines to factory or power plant boilers, as well as even fires started in homes for the purpose of cooking, along with the burning of garbage or refuse piles, particularly dangerous due to the large number of synthetic materials often found in people’s waste.
Vehicles would account for a consistent rise in the air pollution levels, with huge numbers of cars, motorbikes and other smaller personal vehicles being on the road at any given time, often being of the more ancient or aged variety due to a lack of stringent rules regarding vehicle condition. To further compound this is also a lack of regulations surrounding fuel quality, and as such these old engines can leak large amounts of oil vapors, as well as the poor quality combustion process giving out far more chemical compounds and hazardous particulate matter than a cleaner or more up to date vehicle model would.
The roads are often shared with freight vehicles, heavy duty ones such as trucks and lorries, which often utilize diesel as their main fuel source, and due to their great size and weight, are able to put out even more exhaust fumes, as well as worn tire treads putting tons of microscopic particles into the surrounding air, year after year. Other sources of pollution would be the aforementioned power plants and factory areas, both of which rely on fossil fuels such as diesel, coal and natural gas for providing power, thus putting out even more pollution into the atmosphere.
Observing the air quality data collected over the course of 2020, it can be seen that Muridke had a clear period of time in which the pollution levels were at a yearly high, with PM2.5 numbers that went up to extremely dangerous heights, many times higher than some of the lower readings taken over the course of the year.
The last three months of the year saw the highest levels of pollution, with October through to December all coming in with PM2.5 readings of 84.8 μg/m³, 114.8 μg/m³ and 105.1 μg/m³ respectively, making November the most polluted month of the year and high up in the ‘unhealthy’ air quality ratings bracket. January and February also had poor levels of air quality, with their own readings of 70.4 μg/m³ and 63.7 μg/m³, putting them into the unhealthy bracket and demonstrating that the higher elevations seen at years end in Muridke would carry on into the early months of the following year, something that was witnessed in many cities across Pakistan.
Contrasting to the previous question, there are in fact periods of time in Muridke in which the air quality becomes a lot safer to breathe, and although these pollution levels remain high by international standards, they are many times lower than the huge numbers witnessed at the end of the year.
March through to August was when the air quality showed more appreciable levels over the course of 2020 (with the exception of July which came in with a reading that put it in the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket). Out of all these months, the two cleanest ones were March and April, which came in with readings of 27.8 μg/m³ and 27.7 μg/m³, making April the cleanest month of the year by just 0.1 unit, with both months falling into the ‘moderate’ pollution ratings category.
With such high levels of pollution present throughout the year, and in particular certain months having extremes of pollution readings, the air during these times would hold a large amount of harmful pollutants, chemical compounds and hazardous particulate matter. Among them would be ones such as ozone (O3), formed from a reaction between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and various volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which when subject to enough sunlight, are forced into a chemical reaction that creates ozone, or smog as it is better know when it forms on the ground level.
Other pollutants include heavy metals such as lead and mercury, as well as dioxins, furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and ones that typically see a large amount of release from vehicles, namely nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). In terms of fine particles, black carbon would be permeating the atmosphere, as well as other coarse particles such as gravel, road dust and finely ground silica particles, many of which can cause severe scarring of the lungs as well as having potent carcinogenic effects when inhaled excessively.