WHEN an alarmingly poor air quality has for long caused concern and negatively impacted public health, Dhaka’s coming to be the second worst city in the Air Quality Index, sliding down by a notch from the previous ranking, is worrying. Dhaka’s ranking suggests, as New Age reported on Friday, that there is an increased likelihood of adverse effects on public health. Dhaka has scored 190, and the index, based on five criteria pollutants, says a city scoring anywhere between 101 and 200 is likely to pose serious threat to its residents. Scientists and public health campaigners have time and again expressed concern about the fact that the air in Dhaka is getting polluted day by day for lack of effective initiatives. The amount of dust particles in Dhaka’s air have for long been way above a healthy level because of unplanned development projects, brick kilns, unfit vehicles, improper drainage and poor sludge management which release air pollutants in the air. An exposure to such air pollutants can cause serious health hazards.
Air pollution is, according to a UN report, responsible for the premature death of seven million people across the world each year and kills more people than many better-known and feared risk factors and diseases do. Studies say that air pollution shortens an average Bangladeshi’s life by 1.87 years. Another 2015 University of Washington study shows that cerebral and cardiovascular infections caused by air pollution are the biggest cause for premature death in Bangladesh. The State of Global Air 2019 report observes that the entire population in Bangladesh is exposed to an unhealthy level of air pollutant since 1990 and that air pollution caused 1.23 lakh deaths in Bangladesh only in 2017. The situation of Dhaka is understandably worse than that of the rest. Dhaka’s air, as reports indicate, is nothing short of a process killing and injuring thousands every year. Successive governments’ apathy to public health and air pollution, failure to contain unplanned development projects and to monitor vehicles, industries, drains and brick kilns have led Dhaka into such a situation.
The government and the authorities concerned must take effective air quality enhancement action plans to arrest air pollution in view of the serious threats to public health. The government must at the same time take action against sources of air pollution and projects and people responsible for polluting the air.
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