Dhaka residents breathing towards sickness

Dhaka residents breathing towards sickness

 Kohinur Khyum Tithila February 6th, 2020   Dhaka Tribune
Air Pollution

Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka topped the list of cities with the worst air quality again for the second consecutive day in the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Thursday

If you live in Dhaka, there is a strong possibility that you have seen several people suffering from chronic cough, cold, headache, and other respiratory diseases, more so recently. The ever worsening air quality of the city is to blame for this.

Dhaka topped the list of cities with the worst air quality again for the second consecutive day in the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Thursday.

The city’s air is filled with pollutants and dangerous dust particles. Experts say countless people are suffering from cold, fever, sore throat, headache, etc as they inhale this harmful air day after day.

Professor Dr Pran Gopal Dutt, the former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, told Dhaka Tribune that the progressively worsening air of Dhaka city is to blame for the increasing cases of dry cough, allergy, headache, sore throat, stuffy nose, and most of the respiratory diseases in the city.

People are suffering from air pollution regardless of their age, which is very alarming, said Dr Dutt.

“Most viruses including SARS, influenza, rhinovirus, coronavirus spread more rapidly in polluted air compared to clean air,” he added.

Children are more vulnerable to air pollution, said Dutt, adding that parents should refrain from taking their children to overcrowded places to protect them from respiratory diseases.

Even unborn children are not spared from the toxicity of Dhaka air. Pregnant women exposed to the level of pollution we have in Dhaka, may give birth to children with weak immune system, according to Dutt.

Deaths caused by respiratory diseases increase

Number of deaths due to various respiratory diseases has also increased compared to half a decade ago.

As per Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), 588 people died due to asthma in 2019, compared to 614 deaths in 2018, 328 in 2017, 109 in 216, and 56 in 2015.

Sabah Tasnia, a 25-year-old lecturer at a private university in Dhaka, has been using Uber’s car services for the last couple of years as there is no other way for her to avoid the air pollution and protect herself from severe dust allergy. The hazardous air in Dhaka made her health worse.

“Doctors from both home and abroad suggested avoiding travelling in Dhaka as much as possible. Using Uber to get to work every day is very costly but I do not have any other alternative to protect myself,” she told Dhaka Tribune.

The only way for her to tackle this incurable disease is to not expose herself to Dhaka’s harmful air.

Dr Ayesha Akter, assistant director of the DGHS Health Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room, told Dhaka Tribune that people should take precautions before going out.

“There is no alternative to wearing a mask in public places. It would prevent a person from getting infected, and save others if that person has any communicable diseases,” she said.

Sneezing without covering our mouths and spitting on the street can spread communicable diseases through air, said Ayesha.

AirVisual, the organization which publishes the AQI, classified Dhaka’s air as “unhealthy”.

In such cases, they suggested avoiding outdoor exercise, and wearing a pollution mask outdoors. They also discouraged ventilation, and advised using air purifiers indoors.