The quality of the capital’s air has hardly improved over the past weeks when Dhaka was put under heavy restrictions with the rest of the country to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Dhaka’s air was ranked worst in the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Thursday morning. It had an AQI score of 233 at 8:35m and the air was classified as ‘very unhealthy’.Bangladesh’s overcrowded capital is no stranger to polluted air and people expected it to improve, like other parts of the world, after the country entered a lockdown mode in late March.
Air pollution has been one of the biggest concerns for the megacity surrounded by brick kilns, with uncontrolled discharge of dust from construction works and streets filled with vehicles emitting smokes.
The situation is so bad that the High Court in January this year issued a nine-point directive to improve the air quality. Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin told UNB in February that air pollution “should be seen as an important national crisis”.
Dhaka’s score of 233 in the AQI scale means that everyone may begin to experience more serious health effects.
China’s Chengdu occupied the second and third positions in the list of cities with the worst air quality with scores of 169 and 158 respectively.
The AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, informs people how clean or polluted the air of a certain city is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them.In Bangladesh, the AQI is based on five criteria pollutants – Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NO2, CO, SO2, and Ozone (O3).
Dhaka has long been grappling with air pollution. Its air quality usually improves during monsoon.