Exposure to unclean air triggers diseases that increase the healthcare cost for individuals, and each person had to spend Tk8,334 per year on healthcare from their pocket in 2019, said the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
Deaths from diseases associated with air pollution have risen by 9% over the last 20 years, the think tank added at a knowledge-sharing workshop titled "Promoting green cities through building awareness on air and plastic pollution" with journalists.
CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun chaired the event held at its Dhanmondi office on Sunday, while CPD's Research Fellow Syed Yusuf Saadat made a keynote presentation.
It has undertaken a programme titled "Green Cities Initiative", which aims to understand the nexus between air and plastic pollution and the economy of Bangladesh and make relevant policy recommendations. The Green Cities Initiative will focus on two broad thematic areas: air pollution and plastic pollution.
The key objective of the study is to look at the drivers, impacts, and solutions with regard to air and plastic pollution in major cities in Bangladesh and recommend policies to reduce both types of pollution. The Green Cities Initiative aims to make cities green and environment-friendly through the reduction of pollution from air and plastic.
The presentation pointed out that Dhaka is facing significant challenges in managing air and plastic pollution.
Air pollution levels in Bangladeshi cities are 15 times higher than WHO guidelines and five times higher than the annual Bangladesh National Ambient Air Quality Standards (BNAAQS).
The annual pollution level increased by 13% from 2019 to 2020, despite the lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
PM2.5 and PM10 consist of aerodynamic diameters less than 2.5 pm and 10 pm, respectively.
PM2.5 is so minute that billions of them can be fitted inside one red blood cell, causing mortality from respiratory, cardiovascular, and other types of diseases.
The CPD said plastic pollution in Bangladesh has received very little attention.
Mismanaged plastic waste is a significant source of contamination in water systems. In Bangladesh, about 1 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic are generated every year around the coastal areas.
Among major riverine sources, the Karnaphuli River contributes 39% of mismanaged plastic, followed by the Rupsha River, which accounts for 31.75%.