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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program                                                            
Phase 2 (2006 Deadline)

Association of Particulate Matter with Daily Morbidity in

SUNY-AKU Air Pollution Monitor

PM2.5 air sampler in the Tibet Center district of Karachi.

Urban Populations

David O. Carpenter and Haider Khwaja, University at Albany
Zafar Fatmi, Aga Khan University
Pakistani Funding (HEC):  $148,739
US Funding:    $126,295
Project Dates on US Side: February 1, 2007 - October 31, 2011 (Completed)

Project Overview

In recent years, interest in the health effects of air pollution in Asia has intensified due to increasing knowledge of the health effects of air pollution and to the alarmingly high levels of air pollution in Asia’s major cities. The rapid and continuing increase in the population, vehicular traffic, and industrial development combined with meteorological conditions, inadequate transport infrastructure, lax environmental legislation and enforcement, weak institutions, and lack of sufficient skilled research and policy personnel have resulted in poorly planed urbanization and severe air pollution problems in Pakistan with serious health impacts.

This study is investigating the effect of short-term exposure of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in ambient air on hospital admissions and emergency room (ER) visits for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among adults and young children in Karachi. PM2.5 mass samples are being collected over 24-hour periods at multiple sites in the city, and daily records of hospitalizations and ER visits for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases at six hospitals serving the areas will be examined to estimate associations with air pollution on ER visits or hospitalizations while controlling for long-term trends, seasonality, and weather. This first-of-its-kind study aims to provide Pakistani scientists and decision makers with scientific evidence on the magnitude of health effects related to air pollution in urban centers of Pakistan over the next few years.

Major Results

  • One of the first studies to investigate the association between particulate air pollution and morbidity due to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases in a developing mega city, Karachi
  • Determined that higher levels of PM2.5  are associated with a striking elevation in rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for cardiovascular diseases
  • Provided the scientific community, policy makers, and the public with information about the health effects of poor ambient air quality in Pakistan and how it compares to other developing and developed countries of the world
  • Provided a junior Pakistani faculty member with one year of intensive hands-on training in ion chromatography and other analytical methods for assessing airborne pollutants  

Progress Report Summaries

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