Health experts have recommended the implementation of state-of-the-art traffic management, the introduction of smart vehicles, and the promotion of signal-free, smooth traffic flow in Punjab cities as effective measures to tackle smog in Punjab. Public health studies highlight that individuals living near roads are more exposed to harmful air pollution, emphasizing the need for strategic interventions.
Measures to Tackle Smog in Punjab
Expressing serious concerns over the rising ‘vehicle population,’ General Physician Dr. Capt R Arshad Humayun, revealed alarming statistics that 40 to 50% of vehicles contribute to smog in Lahore and across Punjab. Dr. Humayun emphasized the severe health consequences of smog, causing various respiratory, heart, lung, eye, and skin diseases, significantly impacting the affected individuals and their families.
Attributing smog to a combination of smoke (air pollution) and fog, Dr. Humayun noted that air pollution particles ride on fog water, exacerbating health risks. While transport is a major contributor to air pollution, industrial pollution in the Lahore region is equally significant.
Solutions to Tackle Smog in Punjab
A potential solution proposed by Dr. Humayun is to ban locally produced high sulfur petrol and diesel in pollution-sensitive areas of central Punjab, encouraging a shift towards smart vehicles across the entire Punjab city. Introducing cleaner vehicles on the roads is emphasized as a pivotal step to mitigate both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Improvements in air quality resulting from cleaner vehicles could potentially prevent hundreds of premature deaths annually, reduce approximately 70% of the region’s traffic-related greenhouse gas emissions, and lead to significant social and economic benefits, Dr. Humayun highlighted.
In addition to traffic-related measures, Dr. Humayun recommended simple yet effective solutions for individuals to protect themselves from the adverse effects of air pollution. These include wearing face masks, staying hydrated, and opting to stay at home to avoid respiratory-related diseases, eye infections, and skin issues.
Furthermore, experts underscored the burning of crop residue during the winter wheat-planting season as another major contributor to pollution. Addressing these multifaceted challenges requires a comprehensive approach, involving not only traffic management but also changes in fuel quality, vehicle technology, and agricultural practices.
The health community encourages collaborative efforts from policymakers, environmentalists, and citizens alike to adopt sustainable practices, ensuring a healthier and cleaner environment for the residents of Punjab.