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Report: Air pollution kills thousands in Bangladesh capital

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February 10, 2012 at 7:33 AM   

Saleem Samad – AHN News Correspondent

Dhaka, Bangladesh (AHN) – Air pollution in the Bangladesh capital annually kills thousands of urban poor and millions more suffer from respiratory diseases, a burden on the country’s inadequate health budget, says a newly-released report.

The recently completed Country Environment Assessment, conducted jointly by the government and the World Bank identified air pollution as the leading cause of mortality and morbidity related environmental issues.

Authorities in Bangladesh claim if air pollution in its overcrowded capital could be reduced by only 20 percent, an estimated 1,200 to 3,500 lives could be saved each year.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) claims that another 80 to 230 million cases of respiratory diseases could be averted each year.

Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE), a project of the government with the support of the World Bank to reduce the capital’s smog, squarely blames scores of brick industries at the fringe of the city and clogging of limited roads by large number of vehicles for 16 hours a day during weekdays.

The study says that if air pollution was reduced, between $170 to 500 million in healthcare costs would be saved and simultaneously increase the productivity of city dwellers.

Traffic congestion in the capital and smoke from brick kilns are the main reasons for air pollution in Dhaka, according to the World Bank and the Bangladesh government.

The MoEF says that vehicles in Dhaka move 14 kilometers per hour on an average, which is very slow and causes them to burn more fuel and contribute to air pollution. Ministry officials say the average speed could come down to 4kmph by 2025 if no changes are made.

Urban environment experts recommend the immediate introduction of energy efficient technology for a pro-green brick industry and rapid mass transit in the Dhaka metropolis to ease traffic gridlocks through out the day.

Independent newspaper Daily Star on Friday, quoting an official of the Department of Environment (DoE), said the density of airborne particulate matter is around 250 micrograms per cubic meter in Dhaka, which is five times the acceptable level.

The air in Dhaka consists of common pollutants, sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ground-level ozone (O3), volatile organic compounds, hydrogen sulphide (H2S), sulphates and nitrates, the DoE official said.

Additional air pollutants of concern include toxic metals (lead, mercury, manganese, arsenic and nickel), benzene, formaldehyde, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), dioxins, and other persistent organic compounds, he add.

Another study, the Environmental Performance Index 2012,undertaken by the U.S. universities of Yale and Columbia, found Dhaka to be the 31st most polluted city out of 132 cities across the world.


Source: gantdaily




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