Saturday 3, June 2023

Air pollution choking Dhaka

The roadside plants of Dhaka covered in a thick layer of dust show the extent of the pollution.

Staff Reporter: Most of the Dhaka city dwellers are dying prematurely because of air pollution (dust in the air). Naturally common people are the worst victims as they have to go out for work and many of them work outdoors, say, health experts.

Prof Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, founder, and Chairman of the Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) told on Monday, due to unplanned construction works in the city emit a vast amount of dust in the air. The roadside plants covered in a thick layer of dust show the extent of the pollution.

“Not only the construction works but also industrial process, brick kilns, waste burning, dilapidated road, unplanned road digging are producing dust in the city,” he said.

“If pregnant mothers come across excessive pollution, it may cause premature death of their children,” said infertility expert Dr. Rashida Begum.

According to the National Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital (NIDCH), nearly seven million people in Bangladesh suffer from asthma; more than half of them children. Cases of children suffering from bronchitis and chronic coughs have also shot up in recent years, it said.

According to the DoE, old, poorly serviced vehicles, brick kilns (there are currently about 1,000 in and around Dhaka), dust from roads and construction sites, and toxic fumes from industrial sites are major sources of air pollution.

The dust from construction works of government and private development projects including metro rail projects and the black smoke emitted from brickfields and unfit vehicles are responsible for increasing air pollution in the city, said Dr. Lenin Chowdhury, joint general secretary of Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA).

In the last 10 years, the air quality of Bangladesh, especially in Dhaka city, has degraded quite sharply. For the last two decades, Bangladesh has experienced rapid urban population growth, most of which is in and around Dhaka, he added.

According to a study report of the Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) released on 3rd February this year, Dhaka’s air has become heavily polluted with dust due to constant construction work without following any environmental safety guidelines.

The death toll of dust pollution is alarming. Contamination in the atmosphere is caused by the discharge, accidental or deliberate disposal of a wide range of toxic substances. Often the volume of a released substance is relatively high in a certain locality, so the harmful effects are more noticeable.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 37,000 people die every year due to air pollution. We sincerely believe that the problem of air pollution is not insurmountable and if the government takes appropriate steps it can be brought down to tolerable limits.


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