Saturday, February 23, 2019 | ePaper

Growing threat to public health from air pollution

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NO wonder why Dhaka is the most polluted city in the world. We have repeatedly penned on the capital's increased air pollution, and now it has been learnt that airborne ultra-fine dust has been added in the list to pose a serious threat to public health in the capital.

Heavy presence of ultrafine dusts also called particulate matters in the air is attributed to the capital's poor dust management system. However, people in the capital have no option but to breathe the heavily polluted air full of dusts.

The Air Quality Index of Department of Environment's (DoE) Clean Air and Sustainable Environment Project has clearly stated a month ago  - that the capital and the nearby industrial cities of Gazipur and Narayanganj are exposed to between 'extremely unhealthy' and 'very unhealthy' air conditions. The situation is turning worst when heath parishioners are warning since last year that children would be the worst victims of the capital's air pollution with intense dust pollution unless the authorities were sensitized to address the issue immediately. And what is more, brick-kilns, unplanned digging and construction works, pollution caused by heavy industries and unfit automobiles; which are routinely adding to air-pollution have been left at their will to continue polluting city air without respite.

By now, the number of patients suffering from asthma, bronchitis and COPD diseases have increased many times at our public and private hospitals. Rather terrifyingly, there has been no credible authority to address the capital's air pollution and serious public health issue as of now. If the concerned government's authorities are unable to address the predicament - it's time they admit their failure and weaknesses other than sidetracking their responsibility. People can't be left highly vulnerable to heavily dust infected air.  If necessary, they should immediately seek support from international organisations and firms to effectively deal with air pollution.  Most importantly, it's time for public involvement to combat air pollution in our cities. Citizens forum must take the issue at various level to create pressure and force remedial measures  to protect public health.  

The capital of nearly 20 million people now need quick protective measures instead of leaving them to helplessly read more horrifying revelations. Health authorities should immediately take these findings with due diligence, and, if necessary, seek international cooperation in taking urgent action. This alarming rise in health hazard should not continue to cause greater risk to public health.

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