The Financial Express

Deadly air pollution

| Updated: June 27, 2019 20:12:31

Deadly air pollution

How air pollution has intensified is realised from the fact that about 0.2 million lives are lost each year on account of it. Of the 10 most potent reasons behind untimely human death, air pollution finds itself in the fifth place. Deaths due to impure drinking water and poor sanitation could be reduced in the country over the past 30 years but to offset the gains thereby, pollution of air has occurred at an alarming rate during the same period. One of the compelling reasons is development at any cost. In the name of development, unplanned urbanisation and industrialisation spread their roots. Brick kilns started coming up all around cities and towns to meet the need of housing with little consideration for their unwholesome impact on the environment. The north-western horizon of Dhaka is dotted with innumerable such kiln heads. Not only did these kilns damage fertile lands but the black fumes and ash they have been spewing foul the air beyond replenishment.

Automobiles are another source of air contamination. Carbon dioxide released from vehicles make the air unfit for inhaling. The pollution is heavy because most vehicles use fossil fuel. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) came as a blessing but decline in the output of natural gas has threatened to offset the benefit once more. No wonder automobile companies in the developed countries are busy developing electric cars in order to give up fossil fuel. Unless costs of those cars can be drastically brought down, most people in developing countries cannot afford those. Here is an area that demands attention of the policymakers. Now that car assembling plants are being set up here, options should be kept open for switching over to assembling or manufacture of vehicles run on electricity.

However, sources of air pollution are many and varied. In cities, open sewerage and sewage containers foul atmosphere. Industries such as tanneries and plastic factories are to blame for not only contaminating water but lead and chromium residues get into the open air. These elements cause various respiratory problems leading to death. In this context, how unsafe disposal of medical waste can pose a serious threat to citizens' lives often goes unnoticed. Not all types of medical waste pollute air, but those which do are very dangerous. The authorities should ensure that even the incineration of medical waste is done in an approved manner. Otherwise, the faulty process can affect an entire community.     

In their quest for more luxury and comfort, societies today have invited hyped-up crazy consumerism much of which is dispensable. In the case of this nation, polythene has remained a major problem. Its production is unfriendly to the environment and its disposal is even more problematic. Burning it does not help. It only makes the matter worse. Its production, marketing and retail sale should be brought to an end, in the greater interest of the country. Sure enough, there is a need for raising social awareness in order to bring an end to the use of harmful elements. Block brick is an alternative to coal-fired bricks but it could not be promoted to make do without the latter. These are areas on which the authorities should concentrate for improving the environmental records. 

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