The World Bank says Bangladesh’s economic damage from air pollution stands at 4.4% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Accordingly, air pollution is considered to be the cause of 78,145 to 88,229 deaths and causes the total number of days of living with disease for Bangladeshis to range from 1 billion to 1.1 billion days. The shocking numbers are outlined in a World Bank report, which assesses the short-term impact on physical and mental health from outdoor air pollution using data on 12,250 fish in Dhaka and Sylhet.
Currently, Bangladesh is considered the most polluted country in the world. Meanwhile, Dhaka became the second most polluted city in the world. The sad record has been maintained by them from 2018-2021. Air pollution was identified as the 2nd largest risk factor for death and disability in Bangladesh in 2019, with 4 out of 5 leading causes of death being directly related to exposure to air.
“Air pollution puts everyone at risk, from children to the elderly,” said Dandan Chen, World Bank acting country director for Bangladesh. Addressing air pollution is very important for the country’s sustainable growth and development, green development.”
The report also found that areas with heavy construction or heavy traffic in Dhaka had the highest levels of air pollution. At these locations, fine dust, or PM2.5, is at levels hazardous to human health. The percentage of fine dust in the air is 150% higher than the standards of the World Health Organization. It is equivalent to smoking 1.7 cigarettes/day.
After independence Bangladesh was a poor country, often facing famine. However, the country has emerged as a successful example of economic development. The nation of 169 million people will soon surpass India in per capita income and will soon leave the United Nations ranks of least developed countries.
The cornerstone of Bangladesh’s economic growth is apparel, catering to global fast fashion. However, the price to pay is the impact on the environment. Environmentalists say that, with the fashion boom, toxic dyes, acids and other dangerous chemicals are released into the water. The burning of textile waste also makes the air difficult to breathe.
However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. The dense, urbanized population, the explosion of industrial and construction activities, the brick kilns operating at full capacity, and the multitude of other small and medium-sized businesses add to the distinctive atmosphere of difficulty breathing. Even Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has been described as a “gas vault” due to its excessive amount of toxic waste from industrial and construction activities as well as old and outdated means of transport.
Recently, Bangladesh has taken drastic steps to reduce pollution in big cities. Even a law aimed at creating clean air has been considered by this country.