Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lahore - one of the most polluted cities

This piece of news was published in one of the leading newspapers of Pakistan on September 24, 2009. It details how the so-called City of Gardens has been brutally converted into a City of Pollution! 

LAHORE: Rapidly increasing industrialization and commercialisation has turned the provincial metropolis -- once known as the City of Gardens -- into one of the most polluted cities in the country. Even residential localities are not safe from increasing trends of commercialization and industrialization because many industrial zones, which were established some years ago outside the city, are now situated right in middle of the City. Light and heavy industrial units have been established in various city localities i.e. Misri Shah, Baghbanpura, Mughalpura, Daroghewala, Bhagat Pura, Chah Miran, Shadbagh and other localities along the Bund Road and GT Road. These industries include steel foundries, steel re-rolling mills, kilns, steel furnaces, scrap yards, plastic recycling industry, marble grinding, furniture making and several other kinds of cottage industries. All of these industries are spreading different types of pollutions especially air, noise, vibration and heat. According to a rough estimate, over 700 industrial units including a major chunk of steel-related industries are causing serious environmental hazards especially noise and air pollution in various localities of Northern Lahore. Majority of these industrial units are operating in residential localities posing serious threat to human life. Besides residential areas, a good number of industrial and commercial ventures are operating around historical monuments i.e. Shalimar Garden, Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque. The Environment Department of the CDGL had already served notices to many of these ventures but in vain. Majority of industries especially steel-related ones are using used tyres and substandard rubber products to keep their machines running and these machines releases pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides and toxic metals, which are considered the major source of air pollution in the provincial capital without any control and check. For many years, marble grinding and furniture manufacturing industries had been established in residential areas of Ichhra, Ferozpur Road and various other residential localities of Bund Road and Ravi Road. Similarly, College Road, Township, has also turned into a mini industrial zone with the establishment of marble grinding industry. A good number of industrial units manufacturing spurious motor oil are located in Badami Bagh while Rim Market along the historical Lahore Fort is still a serious threat to the biggest archaeological site of the city. Likewise, Kot Lakhpat Industrial Area is also surrounded by residential colonies and residents of these localities are facing air and other kinds of pollution. Another serious threat being faced by residents is the discharge of polluted water by industries in local drains. Brandreth Road has become the hub of mechanical spare parts while localities such as Rehman Gallian, Landa Bazaar, Prem Gallian, Adda Crown have changed into manufacturing areas of these spare parts. People have installed high temperature furnaces, steel rubbing and polishing and other related cottage industries in their homes. Gulshan-e-Ravi - a purely residential locality of the city - is also rapidly changing into a cottage industry zone. A large number of machinery manufacturing units were established in various blocks of this locality especially those close to Bund Road. Motor workshops and heavy body vehicle manufacturing is another rapidly increasing industry in this locality. Environmental experts have said that principle air pollutant in the smoke is Particulate Matter (PM) that includes toxic metal dusts and fumes of lead, chromium, cadmium and zinc and uncontrolled release of these emissions is deterioration air quality. They said air pollutants restrict photosynthesis, increase respiratory infections, birth defects, acid rains, and lung damage. They said that lead and cadmium are also present in fumes released by steel industry that cause collapse of central nervous system and degeneration of joints, lung and kidney diseases respectively. Sources in the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) revealed that as per Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997 all industrial units i.e. cottage or large are supposed to obtain NOCs from the EPD but over 70 per cent industrial units operating in the city do not bother to fulfil this legal formality. Though the EPD runs various campaigns against these industrial units especially those burning used tyres and sub standard rubber products, but the issue is still alive and these industrial units are continuously using this “cheap alternate fuel”. A senior official of the EPD stated that the department some months ago had already started a survey in North Lahore to access the situation. He said the department was also working on shifting these industrial units outside the City. He said recently some steel industries installed scrubbers to control hazardous effects of air pollution and the department was pursuing others to install these scrubbers. On the other hand, the EPD has again planned to start a new drive against industries polluting the city and recently the department has sent challans of 13 industrial units to the Environment Tribunal for legal action. The challans of Lahore’s industrial units and commercial concerns included W-tribe, Bao Screen Printing, Amjed Bricks Company, Abdul Hafeez Bricks Company, Nadeem Bricks Company, Aslam Bricks Company, National Bricks Company, Akram Bricks Company, Omar Bricks Company, Ejaz Bricks Company, Unique Marble Industries, Khas Marble Industry and a case against private person for using generator. When contacted, a spokesman for the EPD said that the drive against industrial and commercial polluters will continue. He said cases against the above mentioned units had been sent to the Environmental Tribunal after completing all legalities including personal hearing notices, EPOs and final notices. On the other hand, majority of citizens have appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to pay attention on this vital and very important issue due to which the health of majority of the city residents is at stake. They also demanded immediate categorization of industrial, commercial and residential localities in the city, saying all industrial units should be shifted to industrial zones outside the city.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Risks associated with Body sprays and Antiperspirants

Deodorants, Antiperspirants, Roll-ons – they seem to be the most common solution to people’s issue of diminishing their body odour. The kind of culture that we observe these days, it has become one’s utmost priority to always feel good and obviously, look good! Grooming and keeping yourself healthy and attractive is an absolutely positive thing to do. In fact, most people want to be so attractive they tend to forget that they need to keep ‘healthy’ as well. Thus, they overlook a few things when it comes to buying personal care products. We are all very conscious about keeping our body’s bad odour in check. Body sprays, sticks and roll-ons help us through. Here comes summer and an indiscreet use of such items begins to take place. When a person uses an antiperspirant, it is meant to block the pores on his/her skin with Aluminium and its compounds. They contain a delicate scent and the discharge of perspiration is blocked. Deodorants deactivate or kill the odor-causing bacteria and therefore, neutralize the smell. They do allow perspiration to take place though. Perspiration is an important function of the body that helps in purifying the blood and in supplying oxygen. It is essential in keeping the skin fresh and healthy. This activity is hampered when the pores become sealed with chemical compounds that definitely have short-term as well as long-term hazardous effects. The outlet of natural oils is clogged that does not allow a healthy glow to the skin resulting in pimples and blackheads. One becomes conducive to develop skin allergies and when these deodorants vaporize, they convert into toxic gaseous substances which become treacherous to the people around the user and him/her self as well. Problems with the sweat glands and lymph glands are also most likely to occur. A carcinogen defines a cancer-causing substance and Formaldehyde is one potential human carcinogen that is present as a constituent in many common deodorants. Isobutane and Propane are propellants that are known to cause depression and their residues that persist in the air cause migraine attacks. Antiperspirants are absorbed by the body, which means that the Aluminium and other compounds enter the body and damage the endocrine and lymphatic systems. They also pose a potential risk in causing breast cancer in women. Although, the exposure to Aluminium is almost inescapable in air, food and water sources, but it is strictly advised to avoid ‘Aluminium-containing products’, that is, deodorants and antiperspirants. Talking about saving our beloved planet Earth, Aerosol sprays and products enter the scenario. An Aerosol is a mixture of very fine solid and liquid particles that tend to float in the atmosphere. They are most popular in being termed as ozone-depleting chemicals since aerosol products contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Although, there have been strict regulations in effect from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the restricted use of CFCs in various products, still there are many other states that are either not aware of the perilous side of these chemicals or do not implement such actions. Deodorant sprays contain aerosols and when they are used, CFCs are released into the atmosphere that contributes to making holes in the Earth’s protective ozone layer. Those deodorant sprays that do not contain CFC-Aerosols, they contain hydrocarbons or compressed gases. These again are pretty wicked in contributing to ‘Global Warming’. Roll-ons and stick deodorants that could be CFC-free emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are harmful again since they create ‘smog’ that causes Asthma in humans. In this age of insistent advertisement so as to entice as many consumers as possible, it becomes difficult to highlight the above stated issues. It is important for every individual to always read the labels of body spays and antiperspirants before buying. The ingredients need to be notified to make sure that the least harmful is included. Most health care personnel urge upon the use of deodorants over antiperspirants since they do not hamper the process of perspiration which is extremely important for hormonal regulation of the body. Otherwise, shower regularly! Use fabrics in clothing that allow ventilation. A person who feels that he/she may sweat a bit too much should think about cutting down the use of Caffeine in his/her diet. Steam-bathing is really effective which also helps in improving a person’s overall health and boosting the body’s blood circulation. When a person is out spending some quality time with friends and relatives and feels the need to have an appealing aroma around him/her self should not forget to wash any kind of fragrance that is put on after coming back home. To get you a natural deodorant, mix baking soda powder with cornstarch in equal amounts and add a few drops of essential oil. Apply on dry underarms and that would cause a quick evaporation of sweat. Dermalogica’s Environmental Control Deodorant is a good option for those who do not feel satisfied without the use of a body spray. It contains natural plant extracts and is said to be fragrance-free. The ingredients include: Parsley Seed Oil, Clove Flower and Hyssop extracts, Coriander Fruit Oil, Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Eucalyptus Leaf, Lemon Peel, Rosemary Leaf and Tea Tree Leaf oils. All these basically help in fighting the odour and in controlling the bacteria.