Climate Change

Pak-EPA’s own central lab polluting environment

The Central Laboratory for Environmental Analysis and Networking (CLEAN) of the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) is emitting dangerous fumes which are polluting the environment.

The Pak-EPA, which is a regulatory authority for the implementation of the laws and regulations regarding the environment, is its self-violating the laws and polluting the environment.
Sources said that the CLEAN emits dangerous fumes during the preparation of samples with acids which is very harmful to the workers and the surrounding environment.

The CLEAN was built by the Japan Government in 2006, and fume hood was installed in a room at first floor of the Pak-EPA building to properly dispose of the harmful gases.

An official of the Pak-EPA wishing anonymity said, the current Director General (DG) Farzana Shah – who was then Deputy Director (DD) Lab – dismantled the fume hood to vacate the room for her office. Although a room was allocated to her in Lab but to have an office in a good location she dismantled the fume hood worth of million and thrown that in the backyard of Pak-EPA building.

The Lab is regularly used for acid digestion of different samples including waste, metal and other elements. During the digestion process harmful fume (gases) are produced which had harmful effect on human health.

The fume hood is used to suck that gases and through it out, so that it cannot stagnant into the internal atmosphere of the lab. SO2, NO2 and other carcinogenic gases are produced which can affect the lungs and eyes of the human being and may also be a cause of cancer.

It is pertinent to mention that a special grant of 20 million rupees for the maintenance of EPA Lab was allocated in Financial Year 2016-17 but the fume hood was not repaired even in that project.

An official of the Pak-EPA also filed a regarding the irregularities in the utilization of that special grant to the Secretary of Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) to conduct a fact-finding inquiry regarding the matter but the MOCC did not initiated any inquiry despite the passage of more than six months.

Source informed, an assistant Inspector is posted as Lab Assistant in the CLEAN Lab, while the qualified Lab Assistant is posted in the library, the posting on nepotism base instead of their qualification is also affecting the performance of the CLEAN Lab.

Sources maintained, due to the improper resource utilization in the public body, some of the lab equipment is non-functional since long like Ion Chromatograph (IC), Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS), Total Organic meter and others.

When contacted, DG EPA Farzana Shah said, digestion is not required for every sample. It depends upon the type of analysis to be carried out. An air quality monitoring station which is operating continuously does not emit any emission. That’s only continuous operational service up, she added.

To a question regarding the fume hood, she confirmed, some parts of the fume hood were removed when upper floors were constructed before 2014.

There are 16 parameters for gases and 32 parameters for water test are defined in National Environmental quality standard (NEQS) but the EPA lab is capable of approx. 15 parameters collectively, sources added.

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