Air pollution has shortened life expectancy in Dhaka by almost nine years, and across the country by 6.9 years, a new study by a US research group says.
The University of Chicago's Energy Policy Institute disclosed the information in its latest Air Quality Life Index.
The researchers used satellite data to measure levels of PM2.5, hazardous floating particles that damage the lungs.
According to new and revised satellite-derived PM2.5 data, Bangladesh had pollution concentration of 75.8 micrograms per cubic metre in 2020. That’s a 13.1 percent increase in pollution during a year when COVID-19 lockdowns were in place.
While this is a significant increase over the 2019 level of 67 micrograms per cubic metre, pollution in Bangladesh has remained consistently high over the past decade, fluctuating between 63 and 77 micrograms per cubic metre. That’s 12 to 15 times higher than the WHO guideline.
Meanwhile, New Delhi, India's capital, has been ranked the world's most polluted city, where people have lost almost 10 years of their lives to air pollution.
Air pollution in Nepal, the third most polluted country, and in Pakistan, the fourth most polluted country, shortened life expectancy there by 4.1 years and 3.8 years respectively, according to the EPIC study. But some of the districts in the two countries — including Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan — are as bad as Bangladesh, where peoples' lives are being shortened by almost seven years according to the research.
The study says that, globally, air pollution is reducing life expectancy by 2.2 years. That's an impact on par with smoking, and more than three times that of alcohol use and unsafe water.
The study says air pollution has reduced in both the U.S. and Europe, but the majority of people in both still live in areas that fail to meet the standards set by the WHO.