LAHORE: Increasing levels of air pollution (indoors and outdoors) in Pakistan have significant environmental and human health consequences at regional and global levels.
However, the country lacks the capabilities to manage air quality and major challenges are limited financial, human, and technical resources to improve and manage air quality.
University of the Punjab, with the help of Cranfield University in the UK, has established for the first time in Pakistan an air quality monitoring network to perform high-resolution spatio-temporal measurements of air quality. The sensors have been installed at various locations in the provincial metropolis including Anarkali, DHA, Johar Town, Bahria Town, Township, PU, Walton, Iqbal Town, Wapda Town.
These sensors will provide real-time data and will be an open access for the public, students, researchers, institutions, policymakers and international agencies. The findings will be used to educate the public, and to help the government and lawmakers to curb pollution and to control health hazards of pollutants.
The data will be used by researchers to assess air quality impact on human life, animal life and environmental health. Dr Zulfiqar Ali from Punjab University and Dr Zaheer Ahmad Nasar from Cranfield University, UK have already established partnership programmes to develop the capacity for postgraduate teaching and research on air quality management in Pakistan and are participating in the project entitled ’High-resolution spatio-temporal measurements of air quality in Lahore’. This study is part of a project “Enabling mitigating the air quality challenges in Hindu Kush Himalaya” led by Dr. Zaheer Nasar, Professor Neil Harris and Dr Chris Walton from Cranfield University in collaboration with Dr. Zulfiqar Ali (Punjab University) and Dr. Iq Mead (Regional program manager – Atmosphere, ICIMOD, Nepal).
Four workshops were conducted by academics from the UK and Pakistan prior to establishing the air quality network. Students and researchers of Punjab University participated keenly to extend their knowledge on air quality challenges and their drivers in Pakistan and the potential of low-cost air pollution sensors to investigate and manage air quality.
The University of Punjab has successfully established a network of sensors throughout Lahore and, in the next phase, we will extend this network to further areas of Pakistan and other countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.