Dhaka, Nov 23 – Dhaka, one of the most polluted cities in the world, ranked 3rd worst in the Air Quality Index on Monday morning.
Dhaka had an AQI score of 185 at 09:02am and the air was classified as ‘unhealthy’.
The poor air quality has become a serious cause of concern among its residents as there is a correlation between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants.
Air pollution & Corona
Researchers at Harvard University found an increase of only one microgram per cubic metre in PM 2.5–dangerous tiny pollutants in the air– is associated with an 8% increase in the Covid-19 death rate.
Another study in the Netherlands suggests that a small increase in exposure to pollution raised the death rate by up to 21 percent.
A study by scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK also found a correlation between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and ground-level ozone from car exhaust fumes or burning of fossil fuels.
A recent study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment has also shown that long-term exposure to air pollution can be “one of the most important contributors to fatalities caused by the coronavirus.
When the AQI value is between 151 and 200, everyone may begin to experience health effects while members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
According to the AQI Index, Pakistan’s Lahore and India’s Delhi occupied the top two spots with a score of 274 and 265 respectively.
The AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, informs people how clean or polluted the air of a certain city is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them.
Dhaka remained the world’s most polluted city in 2019. Bangladesh has been named the world’s most polluted country for PM2. 5 exposure while Dhaka has emerged as the second most polluted city in the 2019 World Air Quality Report.
Its air quality usually improves during monsoon.
The smog from brick kilns, smoke from unfit vehicles and dust generated from public and private constructions sites were the main sources of air pollution.
With the deterioration of coronavirus situation, the country’s air quality now can pose a big challenge to the authorities concerned for securing the life of people.
Bangladesh: World’s ‘worst’ polluted country
Bangladesh topped the list of the world’s most polluted countries in 2019 for PM2.5 exposure, according to an IQAir AirVisual report.
As per the IQAir AirVisual’s 2019 World Air Quality Report, Bangladesh had particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) 83.30 μg/m3 on average. The air was categorised as ‘unhealthy’.
The 2019 World Air Quality Report is based on data from the world’s largest centralised platform for real-time air quality data, combining efforts from thousands of initiatives run by citizens, communities, companies, non-profit organisations and governments.
It includes only PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) data as acquired from ground-based air quality monitoring stations with high data availability.
To track outdoor air quality, the report focused on the concentrations of two pollutants in particular: fine particle air pollution (particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in aerodynamic diameter, or PM2.5) and ozone found near ground level (tropospheric ozone).
This assessment also tracked exposure to household air pollution from burning fuels such as coal, wood, or biomass for cooking.
Air pollution consistently ranks among the top risk factors for death and disability worldwide. Breathing polluted air has long been recognized as increasing a person’s chances of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections, and cancer, according to the report.
What Local Experts Say
As the densely-populated Dhaka city braces for serious air pollution in the dry season like previous years, health experts warn that dirty air during this winter may help coronavirus turn deadlier in terms of mortality rate.
They said the exposure to a high level of air pollution weakens people’s respiratory and immune systems, causes various cold-related diseases, making them more susceptible to Covid-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also recently cautioned that the cities which have a higher level of air pollution should reinforce their preparedness against the deadly corona pandemic.
The experts said the government should immediately take effective preventive measures to contain the virus infection as well as combat air pollution during the winter.
The also said the use of masks by all must be ensured by enforcing law and motivating people as it is the most effective way to protect oneself from pollution and Covid-19. – UNB