Varsities undertake research to cope with environmental hazards

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ISLAMABAD: Leading universities of the country have joined hands with foreign institutions to undertake joint research projects for resolving environmental issues, posing serious threats to the human health as well as the economy.


According to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the higher education institutions are playing their pivotal role in resolving environmental issues of the country.


In this regard, Pakistani universities’ collaboration with leading American and British universities would serve as an impetus to enable the country fight with the serious environmental hazards in forms of air, water and solid waste pollution due to poor management, public awareness and weak enforcement of the environmental policies.


According to World Health Organisation solid waste burning, low-quality fuels, and growing use of fuel-inefficient vehicles have contributed to air pollution especially in major cities of the country, posing serious threats to human health.


Population growth and poor water infrastructure have reduced per capita water availability from 53,000 to 1,200 cubic meters while heavy reliance on firewood has contributed to the world’s second highest rate of deforestation.


Being a developing country with a limited budget, the effects of these pollutants are an aided burden on national health system and economy.


A number of research projects have been initiated under Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Programme, including “Bioremediation of Chromium and Arsenic from Industrial Wastewater” by University of Punjab Lahore and University of Oklahoma USA.


The purpose of this project was to clean contaminants with microbes and it was found that by identifying new natural resources for extracting heavy metals from industrial effluents and by opening new ways to decontaminate the affected soils wastewater and bring them back to full productivity.


Another project “Ambient air quality monitoring using integrated secure wireless sensor and vehicular networks” has been initiated by UET Pakistan and University of Michigan Dearborn USA to assess the severity of the environmental pollution.


A project between UET Lahore and University of Wisconsin-Madison USA titled “Determination of Heavy Metals and PAHs in airborne particulars in Lahore, Pakistan, and Madison, WI, USA”, is focusing to find the amount of pollution in Lahore and helping to find the relationship between pollutants and their effect on public health.


Another project “Association of Particulate Matter with Daily Morbidity in Urban Populations” by Aga Khan University Karachi and Environmental Health Sciences University at Albany USA has been undertaken with the motto `clean air for better lives’.


This study has impacted various fields of education and enabled collaboration with different institutes and industries, leading to a better understanding of ill effects of polluted air.


Similarly, a number of projects have been undertaken with British universities under the International Strategic Partnerships in Research and Education (INSPIRE).


Lead researchers from both countries have shared expertise through bilateral research exchanges and capacity building in various projects, including: “Impact of Environmental pollutants on fish and fisheries in Punjab Pakistan” by University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore and University of Aberdeen, to strengthen the educational status of fish farmers.


“Developing strategies to monitor pollution levels in River Indus” by Government College University Faisalabad and Newcastle University is aimed at monitoring the levels of pollution in the Indus using fish as an indicator.


Another project between University of Karachi and Queen’s University Belfast, “Restoration of the native oyster of Pakistan” is focusing to encourage oyster aquaculture by involving government and private enterprise and exploring means of commercialisation that would make the harvesting of oysters a profitable venture.


A number of projects aiming at encouraging indigenous research at Pakistani universities over environmental issues have been financed by HEC under its National Research Programme for Universities (NRPU). app

Courtesy:  Daily Times

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