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ED: Take the air pollution problem seriously

  • Published at 12:52 am December 23rd, 2020
BRICK KILN Aminbazar
Photo: MEHEDI HASAN

Among the biggest polluters are the brick kilns surrounding the capital city, which operate with little regard for safety or regulation, often illegally

The onset of winter and a new Covid-19 strain on the horizon have only made Dhaka’s air pollution problem more dangerous for the population than ever before.

Dhaka has consistently ranked among cities with the worst levels of air pollution in the world, most recently ranking worst in the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Monday. This is hardly limited to the city itself: Bangladesh topped IQAir AirVisual’s list of the world’s most polluted countries last year.

Although the coronavirus lockdown had initially resulted in an improvement in the air quality, pollution has gone back up again as restrictions were eased. Now, with winter further exacerbating the situation, the capital city’s air poses a serious health hazard for its residents, even those without pre-existing breathing difficulties. And with the pandemic still raging, health experts fear that the health consequences will only be direr.

One suggested solution to this issue has been reinstating and reinforcing Covid-19 restrictions and health guidelines that were in effect when the pandemic had just begun. This includes proper quarantining measures, and most importantly, encouraging and mandating the use of face masks.

But it is not enough to just have people protect themselves from the consequences and after effects of widespread pollution, especially when, on individual levels, they are not the main polluters. It is high time that polluting factors be held accountable first and foremost.

Among the biggest polluters are the brick kilns surrounding the capital city, which operate with little regard for safety or regulation, often illegally. Vehicular emissions are also rarely regulated adequately. Until these root causes are addressed, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to curb Bangladesh’s air pollution problem.

It is no longer enough for there to only be discourse around this issue, with no further actions being taken to reflect the urgency of the situation.