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“As the scorching heat intimidates my intention to go to class, I push my legs against its will to function any way. As I look upfront to gesture any rickshaw puller at sight to come up and give me a ride to my destination, I realize that it’s unusually smoggy. Before the realization set in as reality, I see how obscured the entire city is due to the dust and it’s overflowing, free and groovy movement. What has the beautiful nature come to? There’s nothing left of the greenery which once embodied Dhaka. People all around are covered in mask and glasses and if this goes on they would have to move around with oxygen tanks attached to them all the time. The pollution and dust induced air hits my face harder as a car passes by, it’s as if I had just inhaled a box full of mold and fungus. There’s dirt everywhere, now that I think of it. Starting from the thin layer cascading the top of everyone’s dining table to the intricate tree leaves. If this inevitable and monstrous way of living and breathing perpetuates, it may even cause multiple demise and disease for many. How will an infant, just a few days old, breath in such filth and be expected to grow healthy? How will an elderly suffering from the debilitating of bones, tissues, muscles and lung breathe in even more dust mites and live? Can young minds fantasize about their future if they don’t see the next light of dawn? I’m just someone trying to make it through this one ride to go to class, what about the rest of population who travel everyday in local buses, walk through this death bed every day to go to work and contribute to the community? Do our lives matter?”

– Thoughts of every endangered citizen.

 

Brick Yard In Bangladesh; Image Source: Getty Images

Recent global survey has introduced that Bangladesh has achieved the top place in accordance to pollution level. While Bangladesh was found to possess the most polluted air in the world, Dhaka – its capital emerged as second in the ‘most polluted city’ criteria with Delhi being first. The economy has been hit with such tremendous force of wild air pollution that the number of premature death increases every year. Such obstruction to breathing is in return caused by heavy industrial toxins, high levels of sulfur, carbon emitted from vehicles, power generations and burning of fossil fuel and solid waste.

The construction industry contributes a generous percentage out of the whole pie chart to pollute this country without maintaining none of the orthodox safety, protection, waste minimization or coverall techniques hence the dust, toxins, and chemicals are freed into the winds of the city causing further havoc.

The brick and transportation industry is not far behind to committing such obscene either. Although the rural districts and areas are yet safer than most overpopulated city areas, the death toll that took over the country is rather alarming. Due to this presence of dust both in and outdoors, the death rates sparked to a 7 million, where 600,000 of them were mere children. On an average, that sums up to 800 people dying every hour or so. The cause of such mortality could be due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, respiratory weaknesses so on and so forth.

 

World most polluted countries 2018 (PM2.5); Source: AirVisua

 

In 2017, air pollution led to an approximation of 1.23 lac deaths in Bangladesh. This gives birth to substantial red flags, which include major alerts regarding the future and how much everyone’s life is shortened and that too just because of breathing, which in its eternal purpose is supposed to serve the reciprocal. Bangladeshis are exposed to greater health risks due to inhaling such outrageous amount of impurity and are at the same time well aware of it and also have knowledge on how it’s affecting environmental and climate change.

Moreover, air pollution and contamination also increases ponderous processed yet, sudden chronic diseases like diabetes, stroke and heart attack. This exchange of exposure, effect, illness and demise in the country has reached its peak when researchers discovered that mortality rates due to air pollution is greater than that of malnutrition, alcohol and tobacco abuse, physical abnormalities or other viral diseases like malaria or dengue. And to be in a rural sector dominated country like Bangladesh, where malnutrition and viral diseases are the epilogue to maximum lives, it is rather saddening to acknowledge bigger threats like these that loom above our fates.

 

A baby who is suffering from respiratory disease receives treatment at Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital in Dhaka on November 26, 2019. – Bangladesh said on November 26 it will shut hundreds of soot-belching brick kilns around its capital Dhaka as part of measures to reduce thick smog enveloping the city and pushing air quality levels to among the world’s worst. (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AFP) (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

 

The Air Quality Index (AQI) level value within a range of 50 to 300, where 50 or below is categorized as good and 300 or above is hazardous. The index is based on five criteria of pollutants under the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Dhaka has trounced the index of the world’s worst air quality cities with a whopping score of 361 AIQ which is indefinitely classified as hazardous.Based on the level of pollutants at 49 road intersections in Dhaka, it has revealed that more than 70% of the roadside condition and environment are severely polluted. This is the sequel of elevated density of vehicles in the city which is also the outcome of industrialization and economic growth, however, if there has been such positive growth and digitization in this country, why do a family consisting of 4 people purchase 2 cars? Why do joint families buy separate cars whereas they should be shrewd and buy a bigger car; isn’t it only fair to be sharing rides just as they share their meals? Shouldn’t we be equally worried about the environment as we are about our daily ration?

According to the Department of Environment (DoE), the density of particulate matter (PM) reached 463 micrograms in Bangladesh, with Mexico and Mumbai following right behind. It has also been discovered that the rate of PM is highest during the months of January-March which is mostly during the winter and early summer and as it brings along a cast of drought for a good few months, as well.

According to the WHO, an acceptable rate of PM is 20mcm and cities with 70mcm are considered dangerously polluted. Airborne lead is one of the most harmful PM elements. If it penetrates the lung and conjoins with the blood in the bloodstream, it could cause neurological disorders and reproductive toxicity. It has been proven worst for pregnant women and young hearts. If pregnant women are encountered with such enraged molecules and pollution, it could distress the entire process causing premature death or still borne infants. It is further more destructive for children who play outdoors during afternoon or midday in their ripe years. Unfortunately this is also that time of the day when the roads are most cluttered hence, causes asthma or bronchitis to the young ones.

 

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – 2019/11/18: A road with traffic covered in dust. The air condition of Dhaka city is worsening day by day at an alarming rate for the past 2 years due to new road constructions in most parts of the city. (Photo by Sultan Mahmud Mukut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

 

Two of the vital sources of air pollution are industrial and vehicle emissions. The industrial sector involves fertilizer, paper, textile, garments, food, chemical, cement, brick and wood factories all of which operate without the established guidance and legal enforcement being implicated upon them based on certain rules all industries must maintain on wastage, dumping, minimizing soiled goods, effective production, hazard control and hygiene needs. The output of such laxity heavily implies that the waste may be dumped into the nearest landfill or river with unabated caution and awareness.

 

Children seen playing in a waste ground area beside Buriganga river in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 30 October 2019. (Photo by Syed Mahamudur Rahman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

 

With the thriving population and urbanization, the number of unnecessary vehicles are increasing; the outstanding culprits in such scenario are taxis, mini-trucks, bikes and heavy loaded trucks. The profusion of such impoverished maintenance and smoke emission has exceeded the limits of safety long ago.

Moreover, diesel vehicles are ought to emit black smoke which contains carbon particles. While one sits in the comfort of their air-conditioned car, unbothered about the future sulking of the environment, they also forget innovative ways to lessen the effect through ride sharing, turning off the engines while stuck in traffic, saving more non-renewable gas and petrol which lessens re-filling, decreasing the usage of air conditioners for short trips, opting for alternate vehicles or options.

 

Bangladeshi people make their move in polluted air environment in Dhaka (Photo by Mehedi Hasan/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

 

Sustainable development necessities must be the objective of all the citizens rather than relying for a solution or action from their ideal protagonist. There has been several alarming signs till date- the decreasing amount of trees, elongated days of drought, unbeatable heat and humid, the smell of air only reminiscing that of oil, musky dust, garbage, rotten food or carbon emissions and on personal level – various health related issues which are mostly related to breathing.

It is the sole duty to first define the sources of such pollutant in order to take corrective actions. These selfless act of nourishment could begin at home when people opt for fewer drives, fuel efficient transport systems, promote health care and plantation and ensure etiquette residue and waste disposal systems. On the other hand, policy makers should approach a more conventional environment, engineering and economic sustainability and arrange programs to visualize the compliance and enforcement. Government must target and relinquish type of polluters and offer eye catching incentives to them for depletion of pollution at every level of operation and production. They could also enforce emission based tax, fine or penalties which could subside all forms of pollution.

The awareness and protection of the environment isn’t the headache of one but all. As long as the past and present generations took to dissolve it, at this stage greater help will be needed than what had brought it down. The hopes of better days evolving will all be a myth and fantasy, if better days aren’t created by the people of Bangladesh. Spreading awareness is the first most vital step for changing the country into the sanctuary that it should have always been. Changing for the better would mean to be able to breathe in fresh, misty cold air on a Sunday early morning while dewdrops are yet gathered at the tip each leaf. Although it paints a perfect picture from a romantic movie trailer, it’s rather melancholy to realize that most of us don’t even know this feeling of tranquility linked to Mother Nature- and all for what? Self-destruction and the crumbling of our own homes and country.

Ebana Haque

BY:

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I wonder where else can someone find peace if not within the vulnerabilities of reading. However, in all honesty I like people who don’t read like I like my tea. I don't like tea.

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