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Polluted air continues to affect Dhaka residents

Published : Thursday, 14 March, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 572
Banani Mallick

Dhaka ranked fourth among the most polluted cities in the world, according to the US Air Quality Index (AQI) on Wednesday.
The world's worst air quality was detected in Chiang Mai and Bangladesh's capital Dhaka. Dhaka scored 191 in the US Air Quality Index (AQI). The air was classified as unhealthy.
The world's worst air quality was detected in Chiang Mai, Thailand with a score of 246.
Dhaka continuously ranks among the world's most polluted cities and in this situation on Wednesday the High Court directed the director general of Department of Environment (DoE) to submit a report on what step the organization have taken to prevent air pollution in Dhaka.
Earlier talking to the Daily Observer, the DoE official said it conducted mobile courts against the persons responsible for air pollution.
But the court said the DoE's action is not adequate as the air pollution was not reduced in Dhaka city.
The city corporation authorities have been asked to submit further reports after complying with its January 28 order.
Brick kilns, vehicles run on fuel with high levels of sulphur and construction work have been identified as major sources of air pollution.
The air quality declines during the dry months, from October to April, but improves in the monsoon.
The situation is very serious, experts say, pointing out that five of the top 10 causes of death in Bangladesh are related to air pollution.
However, a new study published in the European
Heart Journal on Monday, focused on Europe suggested that air pollution causes 790,000 premature deaths every year in Europe and 8.8 million worldwide, doubling recent assessments.
Between 40 and 80 percent of those excess deaths are caused by heart attacks, strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease underestimated up to now as a driver of smog-related mortality, researchers reported.
Forest fires have sent air quality in nine provinces to a level considered harmful to people's health, as cities in the North like Chiang Mai registered air quality that was among the world's worst. The AQI measures a broad spectrum of air pollutants including PM2.5, PM10 and carbon dioxide.
PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. It can lodge in the lungs and enter blood vessels, leading to respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
Earlier talking to the Daily Observer Lynn Tang, Director of Programs of Environmental Health, said air pollution is a serious problem in Bangladesh causing over 180,000 deaths annually.  Leading sources of pollution are brick kilns, vehicles, construction and open burning.
In addition, over 80% of the country relies on pollution fuels, including wood and kerosene, for cooking, heating, and lighting.  
This generates unhealthy amounts of smoke for the family and contributes to overall air pollution levels as well in both urban and rural areas.  A comprehensive and multi-sectoral strategy for clean air is needed to adequately address all leading sources of pollution, she said.
For example, the government and NGOs can help by expanding access to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and facilitate industry transition to cleaner brick kilns.
Worldwide, ambient particulate matter ranks as the sixth leading risk factor for premature death, according to the 2018 'State of Global Air' report.  Those risks are acute in Dhaka. The report suggests where particle pollution like PM2.5 microscopically small at 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less and a byproduct of combustion- which is inhaled by residents.

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