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  • Waseem Yunus

Dhaka Air Quality - What is it really like?

"Sheet kale kharap" is our perception but reality is that our air quality is quite bad throughout the year. November to April (6 months) are certainly the worst, but the rest of the year is far from good.


Fact:

There is not even 1 month in the year where we stay at Moderate levels of pollution for the whole month, let alone Good! Even the best months have days where the air quality is "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups".


Fact:

Average Air Quality in Dhaka was Good for the following number of days:

2021

(till end August)

8 days

Most of these were during the lockdown.

2020

​6 days

Despite lockdowns and reduced traffic for most of the year.

2019

8 days

The below is an example of Dhaka Air Quality over 24 hours from 3-4 Sept. 2021.


We live in an environment where we are caught between two evils: opening windows for "fresh air" exposes us to very high levels of PM 2.5 pollution & keeping windows closed and using air conditioning exposes us to indoor pollutants, germs, stale air and odours.


You may be thinking, we live in a fast developing economy and high air pollution is common everywhere in developing countries, so what's the big deal?


The problem is that chronic air pollution leads to serious health issues over time.


Those of us who are sensitive to pollution feel immediate discomfort when pollution levels start rising above moderate. Those who don't suffer from any respiratory problems don't feel anything even with higher levels of air pollution BUT, as the years go by, problems start manifesting such as:

- cardiac issues & strokes

- COPD and other respiratory issues

- higher mortality rates for those who develop diabetes

- neo-natal health issues


The following quote from a study gives another perspective to this:


"Curbing air pollution in compliance with World Health Organization recommendations will likely raise the average life expectancy in Dhaka by 7.7 years, according to a report released by a US research group on Wednesday."

Dhaka Tribune - 1 Sept. 2021

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