Schools to remain closed in smog-hit Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad today

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LAHORE (DNA) – As the thick blanket of smog continues to engulf parts of Punjab, forcing citizens to take precautionary measures as the Air Quality Index (AQI) crossed hazardous level on Thursday, the Punjab Education Department has decided to keep all public and private schools in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad closed today (Friday) due to poor air quality.

According to a notification issued by the provincial government, the schools will remain closed due to “dense smog” in the three districts.

In recent years, smog has become a problem for some cities in Pakistan and neighboring India due to industrial and transport pollution and the practice by farmers to burn stubble crop.

The thick blanket of hazardous smog had engulfed Lahore, forcing citizens to take precautionary measures, of the lowering minimum temperature, humidity and calm wind at night that is allowing the contributing pollutants, being generated mostly by Indian Punjab farmers by burning massive crop residue, to penetrate the bordering areas.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Lahore had reached 371 on average on Thursday morning at 9am.

The AQI in Gulberg was 651, in areas around Punjab Assembly, it was 646, Upper Mall at 458, Sundar Industries recorded 437, Zeenat Block observed 414, and Askari Heights witnessed AQI at 337. As per Lahore US consulate Air Quality Monitor feed, the level of smog was 471.

With no sign of its reduction at least in the next few hours, Lahore’s AQI has witnessed a sudden spike since the start of November. Smog was witnessed in the bordering areas of Lahore and those in the south along the canal.

Haziness, and nose and eye irritation was a clear indication of the beginning of the phenomenon which is pestering Lahore and other Punjab cities for the last four years, rightly being called the fifth season of smog. It has deprived the people of sunshine and dusk-hour charm as layers of toxic smoke engulf horizon from November to February.

The purpose of an AQI is to report air pollution and if it is producing hazardous results. If the rank of air quality index increases to 150, it is unhealthy; if it increases from 200, it becomes a very unhealthy environment.

Health experts have advised people, especially children and the elderly, to remain indoors and take more liquids.