I was editing a copy on air pollution and shivered with the thought of my death by suffocation or intoxication. It is worse than smoking as air pollution gives us no choice to save ourselves, while tobacco inhalation is a personal choice.
Look at the cigarette packets which are increasingly using horrifying photographs to scare smokers or more for the younger generation as many of them use tobacco products for fashion or impress girls in most cases.
Smoking has been banned on aircrafts, trains, buses and even in some luxury cruise ships or a separate area is given to those addicted to nicotine. Smokers find it very difficult, but there is no choice.
Some limit or quit smoking if there is a new born baby or not being allowed to puff away inside their own homes by other non-smokers as passive smoking is more said to be more dangerous for health than it is for the regulars.
It is shocking to see that Bangladesh’s air is increasingly becoming polluted and all laws appear to be of practically no use.
Dhakaites are condemned to serious illnesses with many eventually dying due to the serious air pollution. Doctors give guidelines to patients as to how they can prevent from falling sick. Putting a mask covering the nose and mouth is one popular way to keep off different kinds of particles in the air, but how much does it help.
Available data show that vehicles which should not be allowed on the roads continue to operate along with those which have defects leading to a record high state of air pollution in the city of 20,284,000.
Diesel vehicles were found the worst polluters in vehicle sector. Only 23% of diesel buses and trucks could meet the limit value of 65 Hartridge Smoke Unit (HSU) capacity and about 67% of them had emissions with 85 HSU capacity.
The other major sources of air pollution include emission from faulty vehicles, especially diesel-run ones, brick kilns, dust from construction sites and toxic fumes from industries.
Diesel vehicles were found the worst polluters in vehicle sector. Only 23% of diesel buses and trucks could meet the limit value of 65 HSU opacity and about 67% of them had emissions with opacity >85 HSU.
Dhaka experienced the highest level of air pollution among the cities across the world recently as its air quality index (AQI) soared to 260 and was classified as ‘very unhealthy’.
Biomass has also been burnt at 40 different places in the capital city that was also polluting air.
But, those concerned appear to be sleeping as no serious initiative to check pollution form vehicles and biomass in the capital visible. It is only in black and white from their files to the newspapers! Is that enough when people are getting sick and dying?
Check with the hospitals where many patients were being treated for respiratory illnesses. Doctors mainly blame air pollution besides the unusually chilly winter this time. The condition of those suffering from asthma gets worse due to the pollution and it can be fatal in some cases.
It is time to leave the files, the seminars and news briefings and get into practical actions.
Let me help as a laymen what these activities may be. The most important part is prevention. Medical experts must give advice on how to protect the Dhakaites from air pollution and it must be a strong campaign using TV, radio and newspapers.
The overdue seriousness must be seen immediately by getting to the roots to stop further pollution. Take off vehicles emitting mobil tainted smoke without further delay and face the powerful owners with courage, but please do not shy away fo0r any reason. Tell them you are trying to save them and their children too.
Construction work debris must be covered or face stiff fines. Brick kilns or such issues must be bull-dozed urgently.
Save us from having a sick capital which holds the core intellects and decision makers, besides the new generation.
Lastly, we in the media must give all our support for the success of the measures to be taken for having a Dhaka with fresh air.
* Writer: Nadeem Qadir, Consulting Editor of the Daily Sun and UN Dag Hammarskjold Fellow
BDST: 1541 HRS, JAN 29, 2020