Alarming increase of air pollution in Dhaka city

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Air pollution

MNA Editorial Desk: Air pollution is one of a variety of man made environmental disasters that are currently taking place all over the world. Air pollution may be defined as an atmospheric condition in which various substances are present at concentrations high enough above their normal ambient levels.

Dhaka city is more than 400 years old. Over these years the population has increased many folds. Dhaka city is expanding in all direction east to west, north to south, population is increasing in geometric progression but the civic amenities cannot keep pace with the growing demand. The capacity of various utilities can no longer meet the rapidly increasing demand.

Those who are living in cities in Asian countries including Dhaka have already realized how seriously air pollution has been poisoning life and degrading the environment.

Those are unavoidable accompaniments of increased economic activity of any country. The number of automobiles has been increasing in Dhaka city at the rate of at least 10% annually, which has been contributing to air pollution on the one hand and traffic congestion on the other.

Air pollutionThe main pollutants from gasoline powered internal combustion engines are carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide particulates of lead compound and unburned carbon particles. Emissions from diesel engines are smoke, carbon monoxide, unburned carbon, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

Air pollution seriously affects the respiratory tract and causes irritation, headache, asthma, high blood pressure, heart ailments and even cancer. If this trend of air pollution continued, those living in major cities including the metropolis will become exposed to these ailments and also other complications. The mental faculty of children will be adversely affected by lead pollution, which can also affect the central nervous system and cause renal damage and hypertension.

The government banned running of buses more than 20 years old in the city but failed to keep those vehicles out of the city. It is recommended that government will undertake actual measurement of emission factors, complete the emission inventory, and conduct an investigation on emission control measures.

Government should strengthen vehicle emission standards, regulations and enforcement. Measures to reduce fuel demand and improve traffic conditions are also critical to ensuring a net emission reduction and should be used as a complement to technical measures.

Properly designed laws, regulations enforcement by DoE (Department of Environment) and BRTA (Bangladesh Road Transport Authority), with the regular monitoring of the emission level of air pollutants, the problem can be minimized.

Else initiatives like Pedestrian network improvement, improved non-motorized transportation introduction, and utilization of low carbon transport can be prioritized to maintain the desired level of air emission. Hence, Social awareness about the consequences of environmental degradation caused by air pollution through mass media such as TV, radio and newspaper would also work as change agent.