Sunday, January 17, 2021 | ePaper

Dhaka's worst air along with Covid attack makes city dwellers frightened

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DHAKA'S air ranked fifth-worst in the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday morning amid rising fears that a second-wave of coronavirus could hit the country. Deteriorating air quality can pose a big challenge to the country's fight to keep its people safe from Covid-19. Dhaka had an AQI score of 171 classified as unhealthy.  Last year, Dhaka's air remained very unhealthy and extremely unhealthy for 197 days, leading to 173,500 deaths across the country. Breathing in polluted air can damage the lungs and could potentially push up the odds of dying from coronavirus.
Globally, nine out of every ten people breathe unclean air, and air pollution causes an estimated seven million premature deaths every year, predominantly in low- and middle-income countries, according to UN. Bangladesh has been named the world's most polluted country for PM 2.5 exposure while Dhaka has emerged as the second most polluted city in the 2019 World Air Quality Report. The smokes emitted from the brick kilns, which have been set up in many areas illegally, are blamed as one of the leading causes of air pollution.
Meanwhile, the government has repeatedly warned of a second wave of the virus and urging people to follow proper health guidelines. Bangladesh's coronavirus caseload stands at 445,281 with 6,350 fatalities - a death rate of 1.43 percent. Amidst the surge of coronavirus and subsequent lockdown across the continents, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world "to pay far greater attention to air pollution which also increases the risks associated with Covid-19". Children are particularly at risk of developing asthma, especially if they live near busy roads. Containing air pollution is not possible by a department or Ministry alone. It requires a coordinated effort and every stakeholder has to step forward. The government must put sustainable, eco-friendly development model forward to sustain the human being. All we are responsible for plantation and ensuring low-carbon emission as shouldering the government's responsibilities cannot protect are in the end.

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