We fail to ensure quality air to breathe due to apathy to clean energy

22 October 2020

THE country's air is becoming increasingly poisonous in the absence of effective measures to control the released pollutants.  State of Global Air 2020 report revealed that in 2019 air pollution caused 173,500 people's death in Bangladesh and 6.7 million across the globe. Experts said life expectancy in Bangladesh would have seen the highest expected gain of nearly 1.3 years if the air pollution level met the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Unfortunately, Bangladesh in the top 10 countries with the highest outdoor PM2.5 level refers to tiny pollutant particles, in 2019. The government's stubbornness to the coal-fired power plants and other development projects is responsible for air pollution.
Dangerously, outdoor and household pollutant particles contributed to the deaths of nearly 500,000 infants in their first month of life. In Bangladesh, 20 per cent of all neonatal deaths are linked to air pollution which accounted for the deaths of 10,500 infants. Among the neonatal deaths, 62 per cent is attributable to household air pollution. The major sources of pollution are household solid fuels, dust from construction, coal power plants, brick production, transportation, and diesel-powered equipment, among others.
We see air pollution is increasing in the country and no effective step is visible to reduce it. The coal industry is expanding further and construction works are being done without appropriate controlling measures. If we check the statistics of patients with cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the number eventually rises. If we fail to improve air quality, sufferings will increase. Though links between air pollution and Covid-19 are not yet known, there is clear evidence connecting air pollution and increased heart and lung diseases. Air pollution exposure could significantly worsen the effects of Covid-19.
In the winter season, people in Bangladesh live with the worst air quality as construction works in both domestic and the public sphere, resumption of the brick kiln, garbage burning, etc. remain full swing.  The government has taken some measures like stopping operations of brick kilns and promoting concrete blocks. But it will take a few more years to get the benefits.

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