Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, claimed the unenviable title of the world’s most polluted city, as reported by the Switzerland-based IQAir company. The Air Quality Index (AQI) for Karachi stands at 241, categorized as ‘very unhealthy.’ The main culprit for the deteriorating air quality is the PM2.5 pollutant, with concentrations in Karachi exceeding the WHO annual air quality guideline value by 38.1 times.
Following closely, Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, secured the second spot with an AQI of 214. Meanwhile, New Delhi, the Indian capital, ranked third globally with an AQI of 196.
To address the alarming air pollution levels, Punjab, Pakistan’s largest region, has implemented temporary smart lockdowns in ten districts, including Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad, and Mandi Bahauddin, as the Air Quality Index surpassed 400. The smart lockdown involves the closure of commercial activities and restricted movement, with schools, universities, markets, gyms, and cinemas permitted to open only after 3 pm.
In the northeastern region, long queues of vehicles contribute to pollution, prompting concerns for individuals with respiratory disorders. Authorities advise special precautions due to the hazardous air quality index in Lahore and surrounding areas.