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Unhealthy for sensitive groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for sensitive groups|| 138 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Rawalpindi is currently 10.1 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Wednesday, Nov 29|
Unhealthy 168 AQI US
|Thursday, Nov 30|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 145 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 1|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 128 AQI US
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 138 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 109 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 102 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Moderate 84 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Moderate 82 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Moderate 83 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Moderate 93 AQI US
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Rawalpindi is a city located in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It goes locally by the name of Pindi, and is known as a twin city to Islamabad, due to their strong social and economic ties. Rawalpindi is home for many people that work in Islamabad, and as such the large amount of human activity and movement between the two is likely to generate a large amount of the city’s pollution.
Looking at the statistics taken over 2019, Rawalpindi came in with a PM2.5 average of 40.8 μg/m³, placing it into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. This reading places Rawalpindi into 8th place out of all cities registered in Pakistan, as well as 224th place in all cities ranked worldwide in terms of their pollution levels.
Whilst Rawalpindi does not share the same disastrous levels of pollution that other cities in Pakistan do, such as Gujranwala and Faisalabad coming in with yearly averages of 105.3 μg/m³ and 104.6 μg/m³ respectively, placing them into 3rd and 4th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, its own reading is still fairly serious in regards to poor air quality.
As its grouping suggests, the air quality in Rawalpindi would have numerous adverse effects on sensitive portions of the population such as the young, elderly and those with preexisting illnesses. As well as this, certain months of the year climbed up significantly to even more dangerous levels. As such, Rawalpindi can be counted as a city with pollution being a significant issue.
Rawalpindi sees much of its pollution arise from similar sources that other cities in Pakistan do. These include prominent ones such as the ever present threat of vehicular emissions, with the many cars and motorbikes inhabiting the roads, taking people on their daily commute as well as in and out of the city to Islamabad.
Other vehicles that are responsible for higher outputs of pollution are heavy duty ones such as trucks, buses and lorries, many of which run on outdated engines and use lower quality fuels or diesel, thus emitting far more pollution that a newer model that runs on cleaner fuel would.
Other sources include emissions from factories and industrial areas, with some unique to the region such as the numerous brick kilns, which are powered by low quality and dirty fuels such as raw coal or other forms of biomass such as wood, dead plant matter or even dung, which all give out a potent combination of pollution when burnt.
Lastly the open incineration of refuse and garbage is a pertinent topic, with this occurring heavily in areas of low income, often due to large amounts of rubbish being dumped in such areas, with no form of proper collection or disposal taking place, and with the remaining option of burning it being the most viable (albeit terribly pollutive and unsustainable) way of getting rid of it.
Observing the data taken over the year of 2019, there are some months that stand out the most prominently over other ones, with dangerous peaks of PM2.5 coming in. PM2.5 refers to particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, making it roughly 3% the width of a human hair. Due to this microscopic size, it presents major health issues when inhaled, and as such is a major component in calculating air pollution levels.
Looking at months when these PM2.5 counts were at their highest, it is clear that the beginning and end of the year is when Rawalpindi sees its worst levels of pollution, a trend that remains true for the rest of Pakistan, with the colder months of winter causing far more pollutive material to be burnt, as well as meteorological conditions trapping it within the city’s atmosphere, unable to disperse properly due to thermal inversion.
The months with the worst levels of PM2.5 were January, February and December, with readings of 76.9 μg/m³, 60.2 μg/m³ and 69.3 μg/m³, making January the most polluted month of the whole year, with the same ringing true for many other cities in Pakistan, with either December or January holding the worst levels of PM2.5.
In contrast to the previous question, the months that consistently came in with the lowest readings of pollution in Rawalpindi, and indeed the whole of Pakistan, were April all the way through to November, with a slight exception of September showing higher than average readings with 37.3 μg/m³ coming in, putting that month into the unhealthy for sensitive groups bracket.
After the disastrous readings of December, January and February, a substantial drop was seen in pollution levels in March, with a reading of 39.3 μg/m³ coming in, as opposed to Februarys 60.2 μg/m³. this lowering of pollution levels continued into April with an even lower reading of 31.6 μg/m³, and then down to 25.8 μg/m³ in May. The cleanest month out of the entire year was June, with a PM2.5 reading of 24.2 μg/m³.
Based on the 2019 readings, the cleanest months in order were June, May and August, with PM2.5 numbers of 24.2 μg/m³, 25.8 μg/m³ and 26.6 μg/m³ respectively.
With PM2.5 levels going as high as 76.9 μg/m³, and indeed any pollution reading over the World Health organizations target of 10 μg/m³ or less has the ability to cause grievous damage to human health, with higher readings increasing the likelihood of such events occurring, as well as the number of conditions.
Some of these would include heightened instances of cancer, particularly that of the lungs but also of the skin and throat and indeed anywhere that toxic materials can make their way in the body. This leads onto the next point that fine particulate matter can enter the bloodstream via the lungs and spread to many parts of the body via the circulatory system, causing problems such as ischemic heart disease to occur, as well as damage to the blood vessels, liver and kidneys and reproductive health.
Various respiratory ailments may also occur, with rapid aging of the lungs and well as scarring also leading to a reduction in full lung function, which in turn can lead to illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and asthma all occurring. These are but of a few of the illnesses related to breathing polluted air in Rawalpindi.