Poisonous air kills over 128,000 Pakistanis every year
At least 128,000 deaths are reported annually in Pakistan from air pollution and related diseases, said Fair Finance Pakistan, a non-governmental organisation working to alleviate the impacts of climate change, on the eve of World Clean Air Day.
Pakistan, along with China and India, has the highest death toll due to air pollution as millions of people across the country are forced to breathe air with high levels of harmful pollutants and particulates.
The NGO also launched an online campaign to raise awareness and facilitate actions aimed at improving the country’s air quality.
Asim Jaffry, country programme lead, said: “Changing the business model in Pakistan and elsewhere is necessary to ensure that business operations take on the responsibility, particularly in the financial sector, to ensure a net-zero carbon footprint, protect human life and the ecology of the world.”
He added that the goal of Clean Air Day was to increase awareness of the importance of clean air for health for human economies and has shown that air quality is closely linked to other environmental and development challenges such as climate change.
The 2021 Global Air Quality Index ranks Pakistan as the third most polluted country in the world and its major cities, in particular Lahore, are consistently among the most toxic cities in the world.
The NGO said that air pollution and climate change are closely linked since all major pollutants have a climate impact. As one of the countries on the front lines of the climate crisis, Pakistan is facing severe consequences for not addressing climate change, which has resulted in frequent adverse weather events like extreme temperatures, droughts, and floods.
The World Health Organization estimates that 99% of the world’s population now breathes polluted air. Seven million people die every year because of air pollution, 90% of whom live in low- to middle-income countries.
Research by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has shown that air pollution knows no national boundaries and is strongly associated with other global crises such as climate change and biodiversity loss other forms of pollution, social parity and parity between men and women, and economic development.
The UN agency estimated that when people were exposed to air pollution and extreme heat, they were 20 times more likely to die.
Evidence shows that dirty air has the greatest impact on the poor and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, such as women, children, and the elderly. According to the World Bank, one in ten people is at risk of dangerous air pollution and living in extreme poverty.