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Air quality of Dhaka getting poisonous

Published : Sunday, 10 November, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 150
Banani Mallick

Overall air quality of Dhaka city is getting worse with the presence of heavy metals like lead, chromium, cadmium, nickel, arsenic manganese and copper.
Talking to Daily Observer, Engineer Abdus Sobhan, General Secretary of Poribesh Banchao Andolon (POBA), an organization that works to protect environment, said air of Dhaka city has become poisonous.
Dhaka's air has remained unsuitable for breathing for more than half of the last year. The air quality had remained 'very unhealthy' and 'extremely unhealthy' for 197 days, according to an analysis of Air Quality Index data monitored by the Department of Environment under its Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) project.
According to the approved Air Quality Index (AQI) in Bangladesh, an AQI range between 151 and 200 is categorized as 'unhealthy' while the range between 301 and 500 is classified as 'extremely unhealthy'.
The city's air is contaminated with not only heavy metals like lead, chromium, cadmium, nickel, arsenic, manganese and copper but also with other poisonous particles, suggests the research report.
In addition, Indoor and outdoor air pollution led to 1.23 lakh deaths in Bangladesh in 2017, according to the State of Global Air 2019 report published recently by US-based organization Health Effects Institute and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
However, Bangladesh National Ambient Air Quality Standard guidelines say the presence of particulate matters (PM) 10 in the air should remain within 150 microgram per cubic metre (mg/m3) within 24 hours and that of PM2.5 within 65 mg/m3.
The PM2.5 generally arises from burning of fossil fuels and has a strong association with circulatory diseases. Due to its tiny size, PM2.5 can penetrate deep into the human respiratory system causing a wide range of short and long-term health effects.
Dr Lenin Choudhury, a medicine specialist and an environment activist said these particulate Matter (PM2.5) may cause bronchial and kidney diseases and even lung cancer.
A significant number of city dwellers suffer from respiratory diseases and asthma in the winter every year.
When asked Prof Abdus Salam of Dhaka University, an environment expert, said earlier they found hotspots in some specific areas of Dhaka city but in the recent year they have observed that the number has intensified.
"This trend is very alarming, which clearly shows that the situation is getting worse because of few significant reasons including traffic jams on the road almost in the entire city and the current construction works," he said.
When contacted Ziaul Haque, Director of Air Quality at the Department of Environment, said the ongoing construction work has increased the air pollution.
"We have not witnessed such severe pollution in the air before. And it is not difficult to understand the reason behind it. Currently the government's multiple mega projects are going on in the city which are definitely responsible for this situation.
Asked if they are planning to take any initiative to combat air pollution, he said they would launch a drive against the pollution very soon.

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