Air pollution led to 78,145 deaths in Bangladesh in 2019
Air pollution caused at least 78,145 deaths in Bangladesh in 2019 and also cost the country 3.9 to 4.4 percent of its GDP that year, says a World Bank report released today.
The report "Breathing Heavy: New Evidence on Air Pollution and Health in Bangladesh" assessed the impacts of outdoor air pollution on physical and mental health in Dhaka and Sylhet.
The sites with major construction and persistent traffic in Dhaka city have the highest level of air pollution.
In Dhaka city, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), considered the most hazardous to health, is on average 150 percent above the WHO air quality guidelines.
The highest concentration of fine particulate matter around Dhaka is found near brick kilns.
According to the report, exposure to air pollution significantly raises the risks of breathing difficulties, cough, respiratory tract infections, as well as depression and other health conditions.
Children under five, the elderly, and people with diabetes, heart or respiratory conditions, are most vulnerable.
It further said incidence of lower respiratory tract infections was significantly higher among children living near major construction and traffic sites than elsewhere in the country, including near brick kilns.
In Dhaka division, in addition to local pollution sources, up to one-fifth of the total PM2.5 concentration comes from transboundary sources.
From 2018 to 2021, Dhaka was ranked as the second most polluted city in the world.
Sylhet Division, which has the cleanest air in the country, still experiences average PM2.5 concentration levels that are 80 percent above the WHO air quality guidelines.
The western regions (Khulna and Rajshahi) are more polluted than the eastern ones (Sylhet and Chattogram).
To reduce air pollution impacts on health, the report recommended immediate actions, including improving public health services and response mechanisms, upgrading air pollution data monitoring systems, investing in early warning systems, and engaging in further research.
Community-level screening for persistent coughs and breathing difficulties for people living in air pollution hotspots will help the government address emerging health issues.
Close monitoring of air quality data and further research will help devise effective measures to deal with the health impacts of air pollution, it added.