Dhaka, one of the most polluted cities in the world, ranked second worst in the Air Quality Index Monday morning.
Dhaka occupied the 2nd position in the list of world cities with the worst air quality. The city’s Air Quality index (AQI) was recorded at 180 around 11.35 am.China’s Beĳing and Nepal’s Kathmandu occupied the first and third slots with AQI scores of 424 and 179 respectively.
An AQI between 101 and 200 is considered 'unhealthy', particularly for sensitive groups.
Similarly, an AQI between 201 and 300 is said to be 'poor', while a reading of 301 to 400 is considered 'hazardous', posing serious health risks to residents.
AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, is used by government agencies to inform 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.
Dhaka has long been grappling with air pollution. Its air quality usually improves during monsoon.In recent months, the air quality has degraded to such a degree that the High Court had to issue a nine-point directive for taking steps to improve the quality.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.
Over 80 percent living in urban areas, which monitor air pollution, are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guideline limits, with low- and middle-income countries most at risk.
The smog from brick kilns, smoke from unfit vehicles and dust generated from public and private constructions sites are the main sources of air pollution.
Covid-19 and Air Pollution
With the deterioration of coronavirus situation, the country’s air quality now can pose a big challenge to the authorities concerned for securing the life of people.
Experts say the exposure to a high level of air pollution weakens people’s respiratory and immune systems, causes various cold-related diseases, making them more susceptible to Covid-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also recently cautioned that the cities which have a higher level of air pollution should reinforce their preparedness against the deadly corona pandemic.
Experts also say the use of masks by all must be ensured by enforcing law and motivating people as it is the most effective way to protect oneself from pollution and Covid-19.