Research Article: Characterization of five-year observation data of fine particulate matter in the metropolitan area of Lahore

Date Published: March 14, 2017

Publisher: Springer Netherlands

Author(s): Fatima Khanum, Muhammad Nawaz Chaudhry, Prashant Kumar.


This study aims to assess the long-term trend of fine particles (PM2.5; ≤2.5 μm) at two urban sites of Lahore during 2007–2011. These sites represent two distinct areas: commercial (Townhall) and residential cum industrial (Township). The highest daily mean concentrations of PM2.5 were noted as 389 and 354 μg m−3 at the Townhall and Township sites, respectively. As expected, the annual seasonal mean of PM2.5 was about 53 and 101% higher during winter compared with the summer and monsoon/post-monsoon seasons, respectively. On contrary to many observations seen in developing cities, the annual mean PM2.5 during the weekends was higher than weekdays at both monitoring sites. For example, these were 100 (142) and 142 μg m−3 (148) during the weekdays (weekends) at the Townhall and Township sites, respectively. The regression analysis showed a significant positive correlation of PM2.5 with SO2, NO2 and CO as opposed to a negative correlation with O3. The bivariate polar plots suggested a much higher influence of localized sources (e.g., road vehicles) at the Townhall site as opposed to industrial sources affecting the concentrations at the Township site. The imageries from the MODIS Aqua/Terra indicated long-range transport of PM2.5 from India to Pakistan during February to October whereas from Pakistan to India during November to January. This study provides important results in the form of multiscale relationship of PM2.5 with its sources and precursors, which are important to assess the effectiveness of pollution control mitigation strategies in Lahore and similar cities elsewhere.

Partial Text

Lahore is a metropolitan area with high levels of particulate pollution that often surpasses the guideline values of World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) of Pakistan (Pak-EPA 2005). Both fine and coarse particulate matter cause various types of health concerns (e.g., Stone et al. 2010; Kim et al. 2011; Tsiouri et al. 2015; Lan et al. 2016). The WHO estimated ∼360,000 premature deaths in Asia each year due to air pollution (WHO 2008). The environmental degradation, including water and soil, is about 6% of Pakistan’s GDP, and the indoor and outdoor air pollution contributes nearly half of it towards the total illness and premature mortality (World Bank 2006). The lack of stringent implementation of air pollution regulations and the mass transportation system contribute further to the issue of local air pollution (Biswas et al. 2008). Needless to mention that the particulate matter (PM) also plays an important role in affecting the global climate (IPCC 2007; Karagulian et al. 2015).

We assessed the temporal trend of fine PM (PM2.5) over a period of 5 years in Lahore. The annual mean PM2.5 concentrations were found to be increasing at Township site and show no clear trend at the Townhall site during the study period. Our findings show that the levels of PM2.5 reach to their highest levels during the winter season. For example, the highest daily mean PM2.5 measure at Townhall and Township was found to be 389 and 354 μg m−3, respectively.




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