IT IS a matter of grave concern that ambient air pollution shortens an average Bangladeshi’s life by 1.87 years. Average human life is about one year shorter because of PM2.5 ambient air pollution that shortens live by 1.5 to 2 years in the most polluted Asian and African countries, a new study that was undertaken by the researchers from the University of Texas, University of British Columbia, Brigham Young University in Utah, Imperial College London and the Boston-based Health Effects Institute, revealed. The World Health Organisation, as New Age reported on Monday, estimates that seven million people across the world die every year from exposure to such pollution with most deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. PM2.5 is released from tailpipes of vehicles, coal-fired power plants, fires, agriculture and industrial emissions. It is pertinent to note that these particles, less than 2.5 microns in diameter, penetrate deep inside people’s lungs and even enter the bloodstream to end up causing heart diseases and other cardiovascular complications. Besides, such particles primarily produced from smoke and fumes can easily enter children’s lungs and damage their brain tissues while children generally breathe twice as quickly as adults. It is alarming that more than 8,500 children die every year in the country from diseases caused by indoor air pollution.
The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington prepared a global burden of disease report for 2015 which revealed that air pollution-related cerebral and cardiovascular infections provided the highest causes for premature deaths in Bangladesh. In fact, the way a vast majority of families have to live in houses without any proper ventilation in different cities, including the capital, and are regularly exposed to toxic smoke from traditional cooking stoves, there are little reasons for surprise at the high rate of deadly air pollution mentioned in the study. Also, the unplanned construction of buildings and roads, repairs of supply lines of different utilities and operation of brick kilns in and around the cities, in many cases, flouting the government guidelines, all of which pollute air with dusts and hazardous gases, in particular, contribute to the situation. It is, needless to say, that all this is the result of the general apathy of successive governments, including the incumbents, to public health, on the one hand, and the alleged unholy alliance between the government officials responsible for looking after the issues and unscrupulous businesspeople, on the other.
The government should immediately address the issue. It needs to realise that the deadly air pollution causes losses not only to the families concerned but also to the nation as it has serious implications for the national productivity, in particular. Above all, air pollution reduces liveablity of different cities, including the capital already ranked among the world’s worst liveable cities for different reasons by different international agencies. The situation in question, hence, is a bane for the country desperately trying to attract foreigners for trade.
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