Younus Hossain Sheam:-Dhaka has ranked seventh worst on the world Air Quality Index (AQI) as extreme air pollution makes it one of the most polluted cities. Concerns about health hazards due to polluted air have been raised before, but now the warning rings louder as global experts have opined that health damage caused by continued exposure to high levels of air pollution in cities can potentially increase the death rate from coronavirus infections.
Patients with chronic lung and heart conditions caused or worsened by long-term exposure to air pollution are less able to fight off lung infections and are more likely to die. Early research on Covid-19 has also suggested smokers and former smokers are more susceptible to the virus.
Coronavirus does not spread due to air pollution. That does not happen. But pre-existing lung conditions made worse by exposure to severe air pollution can make people more vulnerable.The novel coronavirus outbreak is very recent and not many studies have been conducted on it to come up with any conclusive remark.
the virus could be more damaging to people living in polluted areas, because their lungs may already be impaired and their defenses weakened.There is also evidence from previous outbreaks of similar coronaviruses that people exposed to dirty air are at greater risk of dying. Scientists who studied the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003 found that infected patients from regions with higher air pollution were 84% more likely to die than those in less-polluted areas.So, it is also a devastating issue to the patients of covid 19.
Long-term exposure to pollution makes people more susceptible to acquiring pneumonia in the first place and worsens their symptoms once they have it. It applies both to bacterial infections and those caused by viruses similar to the coronavirus.
People who live in smoggy areas may be less equipped to fight off the virus to begin with.That’s because air pollution, just like smoking, damages the lungs and makes it harder for them to fight off respiratory infections. When a pollutant enters the lung, the lung treats it like a foreign invader and initiates a whole process of defense.
Cells try to remove the pollutant and over time that depletes energy, causing the lungs to become inflamed.Once the lung is inflamed, the ability of a virus to penetrate is elevated.That affects the lungs’ response to a virus in the alveoli, the tiny air sacs where oxygen moves into the bloodstream.They’re already expending energy to fight air pollution.If another invader comes in, their defense is already diminished.
In Dhaka city there is less or no movement in the road but air condition is still unhealthy here. Residential areas like Uttara, Bashundhara, and Baridhara showed AQI scores of 158, 155, and 152 respectively.On the real-time rankings, Dhaka showed an average AQI score of 149 at 11:09pm on Sunday,29March,2020. Dhaka’s air quality was classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The data is collected from IQAir, which monitors global air quality.
However, earlier in the day at 10:07am, for a brief period of time, Dhaka ranked 34th in the list of countries with worst with an average score of 84, marking a significant improvement in the quality of air.However, the score rose as the day progressed when residential areas like Uttara, Bashundhara, and Baridhara showed AQI scores of 158, 155, and 152 respectively.
A numerical value between 151 and 200 indicates that everyone may begin to experience health effects. Members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. As one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Bangladesh has been struggling with air pollution for a long time. Dhaka continuously ranks among the world’s most polluted cities.Brick kilns, vehicles running on fuel containing higher levels of sulphur, as well as construction work, have all been identified as major sources of air pollution.
Air pollution shortens lives worldwide by nearly three years on average, and leads to 8.8 million premature deaths annually.The shutdown in northern Italy has in fact led to a significant reduction in nitrous oxide and small particulate matter in the air, according to satellite data. Science tells us that epidemics like Covid-19 will occur with increasing frequency of air pollution. “So cleaning up the streets is a basic investment for a healthier future.”
The most basic solution for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal.
Producing clean energy is crucial. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.Shifting to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, and promoting shared mobility (i.e carpooling, and public transports) could reduce air pollution.
From planning to demolition, green building aims to create environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures to reduce their carbon footprint.In addition, monitoring air pollution levels has become very important to detect pollution peaks, better control air pollution and eventually improve air quality.
Some national and state or international policies can be used to control air pollution.Legislation and regulations always offer a fantastic measure for tackling the air pollution menace. Many cities and countries that were once heavily polluted have substantially attained clean air mainly due to the institutionalization of anti-pollution laws.
As much as anti-pollution laws are established and technological advancements progressively aim at minimizing air pollution, it is not just enough. Awareness creation is the number one factor to consider because it will make people realize and understand the sources and effects of air pollution. From this point, it makes it easier for people to take personal or collective initiatives to reduce air pollution.
It can simply be done through an educative process that helps people realize the causes and effects of air pollution. In any case, people contribute to air pollution in multiple ways without even knowing. By raising awareness, it can help minimize the causes of air pollution.
We can expect a pollution free nature by raising awareness among us and we should use energy which doesn’t create air pollution and ensures sustainability. Only government can’t do this without our help.So it is our responsibility to do work with government to have a disease free Country and to get a healthy life.
Younus Hossain Sheam
Department of Environmental Science and disaster Management
Noakhali Science and Technology University