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Air Pollution in Pakistan’s Urban Centers Could Cut Life Expectancy by Up to 4 Years

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Air Pollution in Pakistan's Urban Centers Could Cut Life Expectancy by Up to 4 Years

(CTN News) – Air pollution is exacting a dire toll on life expectancy in Pakistan, particularly in densely polluted urban centers, according to the latest findings from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report.

This annual report, produced by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute, underscores the potential reduction of up to four years in life expectancy for residents in highly polluted cities such as Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, and Peshawar.

Air Pollution’s Impact on Pakistan’s Urban Population


A Pakistani family walk during dense fog and smog in Lahore on December 24, 2018. (Photo by ARIF ALI / AFP)

The AQLI report highlights particulate pollution as Pakistan’s second most significant health risk, with cardiovascular diseases emerging as the primary concern. If current pollution levels persist, residents of Punjab, Islamabad, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could decline life expectancy ranging from 3.7 to 4.6 years on average.

Between 1998 and 2021, Pakistan witnessed a staggering 49.9% increase in average annual particulate pollution levels. This increase alone has led to a reduction of 1.5 years in life expectancy for the population.

South Asia’s Pollution Woes and Mental Health Impact

South Asia, which includes Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, harbors a quarter of the global population and bears the brunt of severe pollution-related repercussions. Bangladesh has been ranked as the world’s most polluted country, while India has contributed to approximately 59% of the global rise in pollution since 2013.

The AQLI report also predicts that the rise in pollution will exacerbate mental health disorders such as chronic anxiety, seasonal depression, and mood disorders, adding to the already alarming health burdens the population faces.

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China’s Progress and US Experience

In contrast to the alarming statistics in South Asia, China has made significant strides in tackling air pollution. The country has achieved a notable reduction of 42.3% in air pollution levels between 2013 and 2021. Sustaining these improvements could lead to an additional 2.2 years of life for the average Chinese citizen.

The United States, through measures like the Clean Air Act, has managed to decrease pollution by 64.9% since 1970, contributing an additional 1.4 years to life expectancy.

However, the report notes that rising wildfires, linked to climate change, continue to trigger pollution spikes across regions, impacting air quality from the American West to Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The Imperative for Action: Addressing Air Pollution

The AQLI report underscores the urgent need for robust measures to combat air pollution in Pakistan and beyond. The entire population of Pakistan, approximately 240 million people, resides in regions where annual average particulate pollution levels exceed guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Adhering to these guidelines could yield significant gains in life expectancy for residents of major cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad.

In conclusion, the AQLI report paints a grim picture of the impact of air pollution on life expectancy, particularly in highly polluted urban centers in Pakistan. Urgent and comprehensive actions are needed to mitigate the health risks posed by air pollution and pave the way for cleaner and healthier environments for present and future generations.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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