It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that environmental pollution is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Personally, I have experienced frequent colds, eye irritation, sore throat, and headaches becoming the norm. Everywhere I go, I hear complaints about the absence of rain, the polluted air, and numerous illnesses plaguing households with no relief from medicine.
Regrettably, Pakistan is grappling with a multitude of significant problems including political turmoil, poverty, unemployment, social unrest, floods, and, to top it off, environmental pollution!
Every year, 7 million lives are lost worldwide due to air pollution. The significance of environmental protection is evident in the celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, exactly fifty years after its inception. Even today, this day is commemorated annually as Environment Protection Day.
A friend of mine who is dedicated to tackling air pollution through her NGO explained, “Irregular monsoon patterns, rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gases, and climate change-related issues such as rapid glacier melting, floods, and droughts are wreaking havoc in Pakistan. Our country is grappling with severe environmental pollution, which not only affects the economy but also jeopardizes the health of the general population. Each year, approximately 1 million individuals seek treatment for diseases caused by air pollution.”
I was taken aback when I discovered that Pakistan ranks among the top 10 countries prone to climate-related disasters. Let me now elaborate on the five primary causes of environmental pollution.
Air pollution stands out as the most hazardous form of pollution, rightfully considered the root cause of numerous diseases. After conducting some research, I discovered that millions of people worldwide suffer daily from various ailments attributed to air pollution, including respiratory tract inflammation, asthma, chest infections, heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, angina, and strokes.
Major contributors to air pollution include the smoke from burning coal, wood, oil, or natural gas, emissions from brick kilns, factories releasing ash, and the burning of waste products.
It is undeniable that transportation serves as the backbone of any country’s economy. However, due to widespread poverty and lack of awareness, it is common to witness vehicles emitting smoke everywhere.
Harmful gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur oxides emitted by these vehicles contribute to headaches, lung and heart diseases. As a result of air pollution, Pakistan has become the most perilous country in South Asia.
Industrial Water Pollution
Industries consume vast amounts of water, and unfortunately, the resulting waste is often discharged without proper treatment measures. This polluted water finds its way into canals and rivers through nearby lakes, streams, and ponds, posing a significant threat to aquatic life and humans alike.
Recently, while passing by a road, I witnessed a river contaminated by wastewater from a factory, where children were unknowingly taking a dip. Shockingly, according to the World Health Organization, around 159 million people worldwide are forced to use contaminated water sources.
Due to space constraints or lack of awareness, people often dispose of items after use. It’s disheartening to see drug addicts and underprivileged children scavenging through garbage dumps. Consequently, those involved in waste picking become susceptible to diseases like AIDS or Hepatitis B.
Modern research reveals that approximately 60% of waste is openly discarded in various locations, subsequently leading to its incineration. The burning of waste releases dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide, resulting in headaches, nausea, sore throats, and respiratory infections.
Trees play a vital role in maintaining a pleasant atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide. However, rampant deforestation is transforming green areas into concrete structures and roads, resulting in visible climate change.
Environmental pollution continues to escalate day by day. While experts widely agree that the situation has reached a critical point, it is imperative that measures are taken to mitigate its effects.
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A ban should be enforced on vehicles emitting harmful smoke, and vehicle owners must prioritize proper maintenance and care. However, the responsibility doesn’t solely lie with individuals. The state has a crucial role to play in not only formulating effective policies but also ensuring their proper implementation.
Urgent and strategic planning is needed to combat pollution effectively. A robust tree plantation campaign holds the utmost importance in mitigating the detrimental effects of pollution. The government should expedite efforts to promote and support tree plantation initiatives. Additionally, strict regulations must be put in place to ensure the safe disposal of industrial effluents.
It is only through collective action, government initiatives, and individual responsibility that we can address the grave issue of environmental pollution. Let us all join hands in preserving our planet for future generations.
Nazia Salarzai is an economics graduate and a blogger.