Nadia Faisal, a cleaning woman in Lahore, remembers the sudden onset of toxic smog that hit Pakistan' second-largest city last month. When she returned home, she found her children playing in a narrow alley, their eyes red and watering. “My kids were asking me ‘What' happening?’.”
The hazardous pollutants across Lahore' skyline caused residents respiratory difficulties, eye irritation, and cardiac complications, among other ailments.
Pakistan's second-largest city, home to more than 10 million people, is facing elevated levels of air pollution, thanks to rapid industrialisation, growing vehicular emissions and tree slashing, and increased crop burning and coal plant emissions from neighbouring India.
“I have never experienced this before. This was scary,” says 20-year-old college student Salma Khalid. “I had breathing problems, so I skipped two classes today. I’m staying indoors.”
Last year, almost 60,000 Pakistanis died from the high level of fine particulate matter in the air, among the highest death tolls in the world from air pollution, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).