Introducing the Pakistan Air Quality Initiative پاکی

Pakistan Air Quality Initiative (PAQI پاکی) provides community-driven air quality data to increase social awareness.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that major cities in Pakistan are as polluted as the world’s most-polluted cities. The air in Pakistan has an annual average of 60 micrograms per cubic meter of air (μg/m³) of PM2.5 particles. That is four-times the safe levels recommended by the National Environmental Quality Standards for Ambient Air by the Environmental Protection Agency in Pakistan (PK-EPA). This air quality may result in serious health effects, aggravating lung and heart diseases and causing respiratory effects in the general population.

59,241 deaths are caused by air pollution each year in Pakistan.

Should Pakistan’s air quality trigger a health alert?

Comparing with other major international cities, Karachi’s PM2.5 concentration is reported to be “Very Unhealthy” at 88 μg/m³, which is nearly six-times the level for London and Paris and nearly six-times the safe level for annual exposure. Both London and Paris have taken significant measures to curb air pollution. Karachi has no measures in place. Moreover, Karachi has no measurements of the air quality level. Even the latest publically available data on air quality is outdated, comprising intermittent data from 2008–2009. There is no awareness about the extent of air pollution, and therefore no public discussion or media reports about the air quality crises. Even though the extremely elevated concentrations of PM2.5 in Karachi are associated with significantly elevated rates of hospital admission.

The situation is the same in other major cities of Pakistan, with the PM2.5 concentration well above safe limits.

PAQI provides crowd-sourced air quality data for Pakistan

PAQI is a community-driven initiative to set up low-cost, real-time monitors to capture air quality data and thereby increase social awareness. PAQI has partnered with AirVisual, a crowd-sourced air quality community that provides tools and information people need to thrive in polluted environments. The first air quality monitors are online in Karachi since October 2016. The data is publicly available on Twitter @KarachiAir.

This initiative aims to:

  1. Monitor air quality in major urban areas of Pakistan
  2. Provide open and public access to local air quality data
  3. Create social awareness about air quality and air pollution
  4. Cooperate to provide a platform, tools and knowledge for a well-informed society

PAQI believes that that open access to data empowers the public to take necessary actions for a healthier environment for residents in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Air Quality Initiative is a project of the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society, a registered non-profit that advocates for a healthier environment. Follow us on Twitter @PakAirQuality and for updates. Help us set up an air quality monitor in your city!