Comparison of exhaled carbon monoxide levels among commuters and roadside vendors in an urban and a suburban population in Pakistan

Document Type



Family Medicine


Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the six criteria air pollutants related to urbanization and has a wide range of health effects. The study measured and compared the exhaled CO levels among commuters and roadside vendors in potentially heavy and low traffic volume areas of Karachi, a megacity in Pakistan. Saddar town [areas of M. A. Jinnah Road (Tibet Center, Denso Hall) and Empress Market] was selected to represent an area of high traffic volume and the suburban town of Gadap (Gadap and Gulshan-e-Maymar) was selected to represent an area of no or low traffic volume. The study compared the CO exposure of commuters and roadside vendors in high and low traffic volume in Karachi. CO exposure was measured in expired air using the breath analyzer module of Bacharach Monoxor-II, USA. A total of 326 individuals (115 commuters and 211 stationary roadside vendors) from Saddar town (n = 193) and Gadap town (n = 133) were selected. In addition, CO levels in ambient air in the same areas, using portable CO analyzer (Bacharach, Monoxor-II, USA), were measured. The mean ambient CO level at Saddar town was 15.6 (SE +/- 2.6) ppm compared to 3.3 (SE +/- 0.3) ppm at Gadap town. The mean CO level in expired air was significantly higher among nonsmokers at Saddar town (12.8 +/- 0.5 ppm) compared to the nonsmokers at Gadap town (7.8 +/- 0.4 ppm). The mean CO level in expired air among smokers was twice that of nonsmokers (21.6 vs. 10.6 ppm). CO in expired air was greater among high traffic volume commuters and roadside stationary population in Karachi, Pakistan. The population in Karachi is exposed to high concentration of air pollutants. These pollutants need to be characterized for health effects and interventions needs to be developed.


Environmental Monitoring and Assessment