With the added threat of Covid-19 this year, unhealthy air only makes it more dangerous
Bangladesh has had a challenging year in 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc, destroying both lives and livelihoods. However, as the dry season approaches with winter just around the corner, a familiar and persistent problem is relevant once again -- air pollution.
On Sunday morning, IQAir AirVisual ranked Dhaka as the city with the worst air pollution in the world, with an Air Quality Index (AQI) score of 188, classified as unhealthy. At the same time, AirVisual’s World Air Quality Report 2019 also ranked Bangladesh as the most contaminated country in the world for PM2.5 exposure.
This comes as no surprise, as Bangladesh, and the capital city of Dhaka in particular, has consistently been plagued by woes regarding air pollution. However, with the added threat of Covid-19 this year, which is a virus that targets the respiratory system, unhealthy air only makes it more dangerous.
For too long, there have been calls to clean up the air, but unfortunately, there has been little progress when it comes to finding solutions. While the lockdowns had given some respite to the issue, and Dhaka had seen cleaner air, that was never the long-term solution.
For Dhaka, the surrounding brick kilns have always been the primary culprit for the city’s terrible air quality, and the question must be asked: When will the authorities get tough on these operations? Not only are they choking the citizens of Dhaka, but these brick kilns often operate illegally and with impunity, showing blatant disregard for regulations.
Winter is just around the corner, and if the past is any indication, the air quality will only get worse. All eyes are on the authorities concerned, who must ensure that this does not happen.