It is depressing -- but not surprising -- to learn that Dhaka and other cities of Bangladesh suffer from some of the worst air pollution in the world.
Various sources can be responsible for air pollution, but in Bangladesh, the biggest culprits are brick kilns, vehicular emissions, construction work, and the rise of fine particles and coarse dust from dried-up rivers -- all made worse in the dry season, from October to April.
It is no surprise that a rise in respiratory diseases is seen around this time, especially in children. Furthermore, the top ten causes of death in the country, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and strokes, can all be linked to air pollution.
It is time to face facts -- the air pollution problem in Dhaka is too big to ignore.
While there are some laws already in place to control factory emissions, they need to be enforced -- we need to be particularly tough on brick kilns which do so much damage to the environment every winter.
With thousands of vehicles plying the streets of Dhaka every day, there is also a need for rigorous policing of emission standards on cars and policies regarding lubricants and fuels used.
Dhaka and other cities need to be revamped so they can become cleaner and greener -- we could take a lesson from highly liveable cities around the world like Singapore, Vancouver, or Melbourne, which have placed a high value on air quality without sacrificing economic growth.
Air pollution is a particularly insidious enemy as it is often an invisible one, but it carries enormous environmental and health costs.
For all our sakes, we need an effective strategy to fight this evil.