Air pollution resulting by common mismanagement in Pakistan

The sources of air pollution can be either natural or man-made.

The main natural sources of air pollution include dust storms, volcanos and wildfires while the pollution from agricultural actives, industries and transportation are some types of man-made air pollution.

Mahmood Laghari PhD

Pollution is entry of substances including gas, liquid or solids in a faster rate than they can be spread out or absorbed naturally in the environment without causing any harm. Hence, the air pollution is the presence of a substance in the air which has harmful or poisonous effects.

If we talk about the harmful health effects of air pollution, some of the long-term effects include heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases. However, air pollution can also cause damage to human’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs. Some studies have related birth defects to air pollution too. This is also important to note that slow effect of air pollution is inducing genetically change in our crops.

The sources of air pollution can be either natural or man-made, the main natural sources of air pollution include dust storms, volcanos and wildfires while the pollution from agricultural actives, industries and transportation are some types of man-made air pollution.

This is difficult stop natural air pollution however, we can reduce man-made air pollution through proper management. Organizations such as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have established standards and strategies to manage air pollution coming from industries. Here we discuss some common mismanagement practices in our country which contribute significantly in air pollution:

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Open transportation

Open transportation of goods such as straw, sand and gravel is very common in our country. Every day we see trucks and other vehicles which transport these type of goods from city to city and having leakage of materials on the road or in the air. The straw or dust coming out from this type of transportation directly chock the radiators of the other vehicles, give harm to bike riders and finally contribute in the overall air pollution. Sometimes, the sand is dropped by such trucks on the road which is then spread out as a dust through other vehicles.

Encroachment on roads

Encroachment on our roads is a very common issue which not only creates trouble inside the cities but also on the major roads which cross different towns and cities. Due to encroachment, the traffic slows down and cause more emission of exhaust gases which directly harm to our public and is a contributor to the air pollution.

Broken and bumpy roads

Broken and bumpy roads is also a common mismanagement issue which plays a role in increasing air pollution. At each pump on the road, the traffic slows down and cause more gaseous emission than it would emits while continuous travelling the roads. Other than increased gaseous emissions, the bumpy and broken roads also cause leakage of transportation goods such as sand and straw on the roads.

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Burning of garbage

Burning of garbage by a common man and even by sanitary workers is common everywhere in Pakistan. Open burning of garbage including plastics, rubbers, electronic waste etc produce toxic smoke having benzene and other carcinogenic compounds which may cause lung cancer, asthmatic or bronchitis disorders and allergic problems in humans. This practice can be decreased through public awareness at local level, monitoring and control by Deputy Commissioners, and by proper waste management practices in the municipalities.

Sprinkling water in streets, canal banks and roadsides 

Most parts of the country especially Sindh, Baluchistan and southern Punjab are in arid regions with dry weather hence, the dust with blowing wind is very common. In the result, the dust is deposited in the streets, banks and roadsides which again spread out with blowing wind and contributes in air pollution. This fraction of air pollution can be decreased by sprinkling water over there. There are hundreds government-appointed workers (Baildaars) on roads, canals and in municipalities these workers can be engaged in sprinkling water in the streets, canal embankments and on roadsides within their jurisdictions and in this way a lot of dust can be stopped which otherwise contributes in air pollution.

Shifting long-distance goods transportation from road to rail and river

Every day we see endless trucks and long vehicles on national highways which transport goods from Karachi to upper parts of the country. This long-distance transportation by road causes more vehicular gaseous emissions in the country. This inefficient by-road transportation can be shifted from road to rail and river transportation for reducing a lot of emissions and energy consumption.


Engr. Dr. Mahmood Laghari is Chairman, Department of Energy and Environment, Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam. Email.








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