LAHORE - Smog has caused alarming increase in skin allergies, fever, flu, eye sore as well as infections of throat, chest and stomach – especially among the children and the elderly.

People are making complaints of burning eyes and heavy breathing. High concentration of fine dust particles, PM2.5, in the atmosphere has also put people at risk of getting cardio vascular diseases, conditions usually not linked to pollution.

Experts are seeing no respite from the prevailing serious health hazard as no significant rain-giving system is approaching the country at least for a week.

Concentration of smog is high in urban areas, especially Lahore due to excessive emissions from moving and stationary sources and large scale digging for development purposes.

Meteorological expert Shaukat Ali Awan says: “Excessive emissions from vehicles and industries, large-scale digging for development and continuous rising of dust from roads has increased pollution to alarming level.

“Persistent dryness has caused gradual accumulation of pollutants in the atmosphere. Decrease in temperature has caused the accumulated pollutants to form fog, mist and smog.

“Ongoing wok on mega projects has made Lahore dirtier than the most polluted cities on the globe.” Leading environmentalist Ahmed Rafeh Alam says: “We can’t exactly identify sources of smog due to lack of air quality testing equipment. Environmental Protection Agency lacks equipment to identify pollutants and gauge level of pollution. As such there is no data to determine the ambient air quality.

“The government has yet to implement the decision of Lahore High Court regarding measures to check pollution. EPA is going to install four monitors. Interestingly, fog policy has been formulated prior to devising a mechanism for monitoring of pollution. It is like putting cart before the horse.

“PM10 and PM2.5 is alarmingly high in the atmosphere. PM10 affect eyes, skin, throat and respiratory system. Smaller paticle-PM2.5 is more dangerous as it enters blood through lungs. This type of pollution has caused considerable increase in cardio vascular diseases.

“Children are at greater risk of getting diseases due to weak immune system. Such level of pollution also hinders normal growth of brain of infants. Even housewives and infants are not free from risk of exposure to pollution as PM2.5 enters room with air.”

Excessive pollution has provided favourable conditions for growth of virus and bacteria.

“Excessive pollution and dryness has increased skin allergy to the extent of Psoriasis, itching, common cold, pain in joints, respiratory tract infection, cough and flu, wheezy chest, high grade fever and stomach upset, says renowned physician Dr Abdul Rauf.

He advised the people to adopt necessary precautionary measures at homes, offices and while going outside and take balanced diet with enhanced intake of fruits and fluids. “Extra care should be given to Asthma patients, elderly people and children to save them from complications. Wear mask while going out, apply moisturizer on skin for avoiding dryness and rashes and frequently wash face and eyes,” he said.