Air pollution can irreparably damage the quality of life
It comes as little surprise that Bangladesh has topped the list of the world’s most polluted countries in the World Air Quality Report 2020, with Dhaka emerging once more as the second most polluted city in the world. Both the country and our capital have consistently held the top few positions on such rankings for the last three years or so.
The little improvement we had seen during the lockdown period last year has been undone, as people returned to their regular routines in the following months; in fact, with Covid-19 cases rising once more, the poor air quality has become a more significant health hazard than it usually is for the nation’s residents.
Whatever measures are to be taken to counter this issue, they must be decided upon and implemented as soon as possible. The longer we go without a sustainable and effective course of action, the greater the costs will be. According to the report’s estimates, a whopping 13-22% of deaths -- amounting to tens of thousands of people -- have been caused due to the adverse health effects of exposure to polluted air. The costs hardly end there. All the ill-effects of air pollution are estimated to cost South Asia 7.4% of its GDP.
As the nation rolls into its 50th year of independence, and with its graduation from LDC status on the horizon, it is imperative that we understand that certain issues come with costs that are not strictly monetary, but are costs nonetheless. Problems like air pollution can irreparably damage the quality of life, and if we fail to factor these crucial concerns into our conversations about development, the costs will only keep piling up.