Bangladesh takes steps to improve air quality

On Jan. 30, the capital Dhaka was ranked on the Air Quality Index (AQI) as having the worst air pollution in the world. (AP)
Updated 08 February 2018

Bangladesh takes steps to improve air quality

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s government is taking a number of initiatives to improve the country’s air quality.
On Jan. 30, the capital Dhaka was ranked on the Air Quality Index (AQI) as having the worst air pollution in the world.
“We’re planning a number of initiatives to upgrade the AQI of the city,” Dr. Monjurul Hannan of the Department of Environment told Arab News.
Brick kilns in Dhaka’s vicinity are “responsible for 52 percent of the pollution” in the area, and the government is urging owners of these kilns to “use efficient and sustainable energy,” he said.
“Around 60 percent of the brick kilns have switched to efficient energy sources. We’re monitoring them closely so the rest will do the same. We’re also discouraging unregistered brick kilns from operating in the area.”
Over the years, air quality in Bangladesh has declined at an alarming rate, particularly during winter. The AQI’s real-time map shows that Dhaka’s air quality is “extremely unhealthy.”
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the AQI, which is divided into six categories indicating levels of concern over health.
A value of more than 300 represents hazardous air quality, and below 50 indicates that it is good. Dhaka consistently ranks between 301 and 500.
“Dhaka is one of most populated and polluted cities in the world, and it’s becoming more polluted every day,” Dr. Atik Rahman, a renowned environmentalist and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, told Arab News.
“Numerous brick kilns around the city are producing huge levels of dust and smoke. Garment and leather factories in and around the city, and other industries on the outskirts, are also adding to the level of pollution,” said Rahman, who is executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies.
“In addition, we have many high-rise buildings under construction, and these construction sites are seriously adding to air pollution.”
Hannan said: “Dhaka faces the highest level of air pollution during winter, since we don’t get much rain then.”
He added: “Under-construction buildings and roads are adding more dust to the environment, making the situation even worse.
“Private construction operators must strictly maintain the (government’s) building code and carry material more carefully so as to avoid more dust.”
Five of the top 10 causes of death in Bangladesh are related to air pollution, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Rahman said: “At present, the people of Dhaka are suffering from respiratory problems and various lung-related diseases due to inhaling polluted air every day.”
He added: “We need to decrease the population pressure on this city, otherwise there will be no sustainable solution to this air pollution.
“We also need to improve the urban traffic system and make it more efficient, as traffic jams result in burning fuel inefficiently, adding more and more particulate matter 2.5 in the air, which is highly injurious to health when inhaled.”


US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

Updated 44 min 41 sec ago

US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

  • Nearly 1.7 million infections have been tallied nationwide

WASHINGTON:: The United States has now recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported Wednesday — a somber milestone and by far the highest total in the world.
The country reported its first death about three months ago. Since then, nearly 1.7 million infections have been tallied nationwide, according to the Baltimore-based school.
The actual number of deaths and infections is believed to be higher, experts say.
In the last 24 hours, the death toll was on the rise once again, with 1,401 deaths added, after three straight days of tolls under 700. The full death toll stood at 100,396.
The state of New York has seen nearly a third of all coronavirus-related deaths in the United States, where President Donald Trump ordered that flags fly at half-staff last weekend to honor the victims.
The first US virus death was reported on February 26, though officials now say they believe that others may have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, before that.
The country passed the 50,000-death threshold barely more than a month ago.
The number of deaths per capita in the United States is nevertheless lower than in several European countries, including Britain, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain.
Despite the grim toll, most US states are now moving toward ending the strict stay-at-home measures that were implemented to curb the spread of the virus.
President Donald Trump, who is running for reelection in November, is eager to stem the economic pain of the lockdown, which has left tens of millions of Americans without jobs.