Chattogram needs an urgent solution to dust pollution

The air in the town of Chattogram is laden with dust, causing many health complications among its residents. Photo: courtesy

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The air in the town of Chattogram is laden with dust, causing many health complications among its residents. Photo: courtesy

Chattogram is well known for its diverse natural aesthetic, with its mountainous terrain, rivers, and coastal plains. However, rapid urbanization has taken its toll on this city, which is home to Bangladesh’s largest seaport. Various important settlements, diversification of trade and commerce, population increase and expansion of housing, businesses and industries continue to occur in the city every day. As a negative consequence of this “industrialization”, which takes place without respecting the rules and regulations in force, the city and its inhabitants have long suffered from excessive pollution. The air in Chattogram is now thick with dust and smoke. The increased presence of toxic particles in the air has led to an increase in various diseases, especially respiratory problems like asthma.

The air quality of an area or region depends on the amount of fine dust (particulate matter) it contains. The amount of particulate matter is measured in micrograms per cubic meter or parts per million (ppm). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is measured based on the presence of PM2.5 and PM10 (PM2.5 means particles have a diameter of 2.5 micrometers and less, and PM10 means that they measure 10 micrometers or less), as well as the presence of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. The higher a city’s AQI score, the poorer the air quality. Air with an AQI score greater than 100 is “slightly harmful”, while air with an AQI score greater than 150 is “unhealthy”, above 200 is “very unhealthy” and above 300 is “extremely unhealthy”.

Typically, the tolerable level of dust per cubic meter of air is 150 micrograms. But data from the Department of the Environment (DoE) shows that in November of this year, the amount of dust in the air in different parts of the town of Chattogram averaged over 300 micrograms. There was a time when dust haze was only visible in the main streets, but now the dust-filled air can be found in the alleys as well. The air is so polluted that it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between dust and fog during the winter season. Schoolchildren and pedestrians are the most affected. It is so bad that the leaves of the trees by the roadsides look gray because they are covered with dust.

The most dangerous particle is PM2.5. This not only causes haze, but also affects the temperature. Based on available data, 65% of the polluting substance in Chattogram air is dust. Environmentalists say dust pollution exceeds pollution from brick fields.

Dust pollution is mainly caused by development works, especially during the dry season. The authorities which supervise the development works do not respect the rules set to control pollution, that is to say regularly sprinkle the water, for example. Even in megaprojects, which are implemented with funding from government and foreign agencies, the environmental issue is not sufficiently taken into account, while environmental protection should be a priority in planning. of a development project.

According to Dr Md Shafiul Alam, professor at the Institute of Forestry and Environmental Sciences at Chittagong University (IFESCU), air pollution is increasing in the city due to the demolition of old buildings and construction. new ones, from the dumping of building materials in the streets. , etc. to meet the demand for housing as the population continues to grow every year. Pollution is intensifying day by day due to lack of coordination and non-compliance with environmentally friendly methods. According to health experts, high levels of PM in city air and prolonged exposure to dust can affect the arteries, respiratory system, and nervous system of a human body. In addition, there are increased risks of eye problems, indigestion, allergies, and other viral illnesses. Children are most at risk, followed by pregnant women. If the trend in air pollution continues, the rate of premature deaths will increase in Chattogram, they fear.

Chattogram air pollution, especially dust pollution, needs to be addressed urgently. Planned urbanization, initiatives for the development and renovation of public services, drainage and roads, coordination between different government and development agencies and the use of air treatment plants must be considered and implemented as soon as possible. as possible. The current situation in the town of Chattogram is extremely unsanitary and damaging to public health, and the authorities must make sanitation of the town’s air a priority.

Minhazur Rahman Shihab is a student at the Institute of Forestry and Environmental Sciences at Chittagong University.


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