Smoke-emitting vehicles hit Karachiites hard
KARACHI: Vehicular smoke is the number one cause of the growing air pollution in Karachi, causing serious environmental loss to the mega city besides spreading lung diseases in population. All major arteries of the city brave extremely higher levels of smoke in air, but various departments and agencies related to environmental control; traffic regulations, motor engine fitness and removing roadside encroachments are not giving proper focus on this serious issue. Though industrial smoke, uncontrolled waste burning, poor drainage, sanitation and waste disposal system, and presence of high percentage of dust particles in air also heavily contribute to polluting air, but the exhaust gases from vehicles is the major cause of poisoning city air.
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) central leader and noted ENT surgeon Dr Qaiser Sajjad said the issue of smoke pollution in Karachi is aggravating with each passing day but the authorities concerned are not ready to realise serious consequences of this problem on public health. He said now the cases of smoke allergy are on the rise in Karachi children, as hundreds of schools are situated on busy roads clouded with dense smoke. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren have to travel on school vans running on the city roads where air pollution levels are extremely high. Studies suggest that living within 100 meters off major highways is a risk factor, although smaller distances may also result in graded increases in risk.
Other studies demonstrate special vulnerability to air pollution among those with serious illnesses, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and lung cancer. Hundreds of thousands of Karachiites suffer from these diseases mainly due to living in areas where air pollution is dangerously high. Children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those with specific genetic traits are at special risk. Roadside encroachments and wrong parking cause frequent traffic jams, resulting in concentration of more vehicular exhaust gases and smoke on roads.