Issue Brief on “Pakistan’s Struggle against Air Pollution”

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While Pakistan’s carbon emissions are very low in comparison to the rest of the world, it is among the most polluted countries in terms of ambient (outdoor) air pollution and water contamination. According to rankings compiled by IQ-Air,[1] Pakistan was the world’s second most polluted country in the world for past three years from 2018 to 2020, behind Bangladesh, with air quality characterised as unhealthy as measured by levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5.

The cleanest city in the country is Islamabad with an AQI of 110. The most polluted city is Lahore also the world’s 18th most polluted city with an AQI of 163. Levels of air quality have been rated near unhealthy and very unhealthy for most of the year in Punjab and Karachi. During the smog season – from October to January – air quality reaches hazardous levels, as recorded by multiple, independent sources including the air quality monitors installed by the United States Consulate in Lahore and the crowd sourced data collated by the Pakistan Air Quality Initiative.[2]

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