Air Quality Measurements at Multan, Pakistan
Urban outdoor air pollution is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to cause 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year. By reducing air pollution levels, it is possible to reduce the global burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer. Air pollution is a major environmental health problem able to produce serious risks to health from exposure to particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3) in many cities, including Multan, Pakistan. At present there are no national inventories that estimate air pollutant emissions in Pakistan, and regular monitoring of environmental air quality is still not systematic in this country. According to the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), a major share of the emissions load from motor vehicles, although not quantified, can be attributed to a relatively small number of smoky diesel and two-stroke vehicles found in many Pakistani cities. The high levels of sulfur in automotive diesel (0.5–1 %) and furnace oil (1–3.5 %) are seen as a major contributor PM in ambient air. Emissions from large-scale facilities and a wide range of small-to-medium-scale industries (brick kilns, steel rerolling, steel recycling, plastic molding, etc.) cause a disproportionate share of pollution through their use of dirty “waste” fuels (i.e., old tires, paper, wood, and textile waste) and the use of diesel electric generators in commercial and residential areas.
In Multan, the burning of municipal solid waste is also a significant source of air pollution in the urban area, where almost 48,000 t of solid waste is generated each day, most of which is either dumped in low-lying areas or burned at low temperatures, generating PM, but also producing other carcinogenic pollutants.
The air quality monitoring program presented in this chapter aims at providing information for identifying main pollution sources and analyzing pollutant transport dynamics through the continuous measurements of aerosol, trace gas concentrations, and meteorological variables in Multan. Within this project a monitoring station has been installed at Multan Airport: this represents the first permanent air quality station working in this city. The activities have been carried out in collaboration with the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and the Environmental Sciences Department of the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU).
The air quality system performs continuous measurements of meteorological variables, PM 2.5 and PM 10 (atmospheric particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 and 10 μm, respectively) and O3. Measurement results will allow to improve knowledge in the field of atmospheric sciences and air quality monitoring in order to facilitate sustainable development resource management at local level. Moreover, in collaboration with the PMD, a preliminary “Air Quality Monitoring Plan” has been defined to collect available information on local conditions and to provide suggestion for the implementation of an action plan to improve air quality in Multan City such as the reinforcement of environmental regulations, infrastructural interventions (e.g., roads) to reduce dust emissions, and the organization of awareness campaigns regarding air pollution control at school and university level.
KeywordsAerosol Optical Depth Mineral Dust National Environment Quality Standard Pakistan Meteorological Department Cholistan Desert
MODIS AOD analyses and visualization used in this work were produced with the Giovanni online data system, developed and maintained by NASA GES DISC. We also acknowledge the MODIS mission scientist and associated NASA personnel for the production of data used in this work.
This study was part of the project “Sustainable, Social, Economic and Environmental Revitalization in the Historic Core of Multan City,” funded through the Agreement on Debt for Development Swap between the Government of the Italian Republic and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
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