Airborne dusts pose serious threat to capital’s public health

Sadiqur Rahman and Manzur H Maswood | Published: 00:05, Mar 12,2018 | Updated: 23:20, Mar 11,2018

 
 

A man holds his nose as dust covers the Banasree Road in Dhaka on Sunday. — Ali Hossain Mintu

Airborne ultra-fine dusts pose a serious threat to public health in the capital.
Heavy presence of ultrafine dusts also called particulate matters in air is attributed to the capital’s poor dust management.
In the capital people have no option but to breathe its air heavily polluted with dusts.
There is no credible authority to address the capital’s serious public health issue.
Doctors warned that children would be the worst victims of the capital’s air pollution unless the authorities were sensitized to address the issue immediately.
According to the Department of Environment’s Clean Air and Sustainable Environment Project’s Air Quality Index, the air quality in the capital and the nearby industrial cities of Gazipur and Narayanganj vary between extremely unhealthy’ and ‘very unhealthy’.
Air quality experts called huge traffic rush, poor maintenance of streets, footpaths and medians and open stockpiling of sand for construction violating the building code as the major sources of dust in the capital’s air.
Poor maintenance turned most of the capital’s streets and sidewalks dilapidated.
Stockpiling of debris made even renovated footpaths unusable.
Madhya Badda grocer Mohammad Selim complained that dusts made life for those living around the Pragati Avenue unbearable since construction of traffic U-loop on the important thoroughfare began.
Monipuripara housewife Phalguni Antonia Baroi said each family in the Farmgate area has to remove dusts several times a day since the underground power-cables were re-laid across the Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue.
She said that after re-laying the cables the busy avenue was left uncarpeted for which dusts get airborne in the area continuously.
Sumaya Shakira of Goran told New Age that every day dusts soil her own and her daughter’s dress on way to school at Khilgaon.
She said her daughter developed breathing problem, coughing and sneezing.
Theose living at Khilgaon, Basabo and Goran said that dusts from road repair activities made their life miserable.
Dhaka University chemistry teacher and Air Quality Research and Monitoring Centre sub-project manager Md Mominul Islam said density of ultra-fine dust increases as re-suspension of sand and earth occurs due to heavy traffic and pedestrian movements.
He told New Age that ultra-fine dusts having gaseous characteristics easily penetrate deep inside the lung and get into the bloodstream causing cardiovascular complications including heart disease.
Ultra-fine dusts are less than 2.5 and 10 micron in diameter.
According to DoE AQI value between 0 and 50 is good air.
Recently, the capital’s AQI value showed scores ranging between 250 and 500, making its air vary between very unhealthy and extremely unhealthy.
‘Undoubtedly, I would say that the capital’s air became too hazardous for public health,’ said Momin.
Doctors said that dusts cause serious harm to public health, particularly the children and the elderly.
Most common effects of dusts are different kinds of respiratory diseases, said AKM Mosharraf Hossain, professor and chairman of respiratory disease at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
‘Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, breathing complications, coughing, sneezing and fever are some common effects of dust exposure’, he said.
Once fine dusts enter the lung, the sufferings of patients with asthma and COPD increase manifold and those who are not such patients also could develop these kinds of respiratory diseases, Mosharraf said.
He warned that continuous inhalation of dusts could even cause cancer.
Mosharrf said that the number of respiratory disease patients increased manifold at his department.
DoE’s air quality management director Ziaul Haque blamed lack of coordination among the utilities for the capital’s poor dust management.
At a meeting convened by the DoE, Dhaka WASA, Titas Gas, RAJUK, power suppliers and two city corporations were given reminders to check dust pollution.
Zia said that he found many of utilities were reluctant to comply with the decisions. 

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