Seasonal variations and transboundary movement of air have contributed much to airborne pollutants, which travel a long distance and cause unwanted air quality degradation, revealed the latest study by the Environment and Social Development organisation (ESDO).
This is a major concern for a smaller country like Bangladesh which is surrounded by highly polluted countries like India and Nepal, the study stated, adding that particulate matter pollutants in South Asia – throughout the dry, monsoon and winter seasons – are probably transported towards Dhaka city through different routes.
ESDO disclosed the study, titled "Air Pollution in Bangladesh: Outdoor vs Indoor: Sources and Penalties" on Monday at a virtual press briefing.
According to the study, construction activities are the largest contributor, 38%, for outdoor pollution.
The other contributors are: open landfill incineration of plastic waste (22%), industrial processes (17%), brick kilns (10%), and the combustion of fossil fuels for road transport and power generation (8%).
Meanwhile, indoor air pollution is caused by: smoke emitted from cooking stoves or the burning of biomass (41%), smoke emitted from burning cigarettes (25%), gaseous substances emitted from toilets or sewerage (15%), radon gas and unseen indoor pollutants (10%), and lead poisoning from decorative paint (9%), as per the study.
While presenting the keynote paper, Golam Rabbani, programme associate of ESDO, cited the global Air Quality Index that ranked Bangladesh the second most polluted country and ranked Dhaka the fourth most polluted city.
Air pollution and its impact is not just a health issue, it has created a serious economic and ecological disaster, said the expert.
Air pollution exposure is linked to increased hospitalisation, disability and early death – from respiratory disease, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and diabetes – as well as communicable disease like pneumonia, he cited, warning that the death rate has increased sharply in recent years due to those diseases.
In the last five years (2015-2019), the number of asthma patients rose to 78,806 (2019) from 3,326 (2015) while deaths from this disease went up to 588 from 56 in this period.
Similarly, the number of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rose from 1,610 to 78,806 while death increased 19 times higher to 588.
Experts urged for immediate solutions suggesting the adoption of a multilateral approach to fight air pollution.