In Dhaka, commuting to work alongside heavy traffic combined with ongoing construction seems to be the daily norm.
Its capital Dhaka ranked as the second most polluted city globally over the same duration. , which is the second strongest risk factor, causing most deaths and disabilities in the country between 2009 and 2019.
Pollution sources and where to find it
The report shows how air pollution is affecting the physical and mental health of people living in the country. We primarily looked around the region of Dhaka and Sylhet - Dhaka being the most polluted part of the country as a comparator to Sylhet, the least polluted part of the country.
It also focused on key air pollutants, namely fine particulate matter, and coarse particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and the related health outcomes of 12,250 individuals living in the vicinity of the four study sites.
Key findings of the report
- Location and exposure:
This is irrespective of whether the individual is a small child or a non-smoking adult, the inhalation of these pollutants is universal. WHO exposure near the brick kilns is 136 percent above the WHO AQG limit – equivalent to smoking 1.6 cigarettes per day.
- Elevated health risks:
For instance, a 1 percent increase in exposure to PM2.5 above the WHO AQG limit is associated with a 12.8 percent increase in the likelihood of a person experiencing breathing difficulties, 12.5 percent higher probability of having a wet cough, and 8.1 percent higher likelihood of experiencing lower respiratory tract infection.
- Vulnerable demographic:
such as diabetes, heart and respiratory conditions, allergies, among others. In fact, (comparable to pneumonia, and one of the largest causes of death for this age group) than anywhere else in the country.
- Effects on mental health:
Through the health sector, measures to respond to the health crisis can be implemented while a multi-sectoral approach is needed for reducing exposure to air pollution.
Some of these measures are improving public health service delivery platforms to deal with the health effects of air pollution, with a focus on vulnerable groups such as the elderly and children.
In addition, strengthening public health response mechanisms to promote preventive measures can support the government to address emerging health issues. For example,Other outreach activities can also be used to create awareness among the public about the adverse effects on health due to air pollution.
Using more granular data, together with the weather data (on temperature, humidity, and precipitation) collected by the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, relevant government agencies will be able to provide a complete picture of the extent of air pollution in Bangladesh.
Such additional research in this space will help triangulate the findings and assist in better understanding the health impacts of air pollution.
A collective effort from the government through policy reforms and initiatives aimed directly at improving health services, raising awareness, and comprehensive research on air pollution can mitigate this crisis.
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