In the News
March 24, 2023
March 24, 2023
Dhaka’s air quality is among the world’s worst, due to traffic, construction, and industrial pollution. For its 20 million residents, solutions are desperately needed.
Rush hour along Dhaka’s Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, a serpentine road that bisects the Bangladeshi capital, resembles a chaotic citywide evacuation.
Thousands of cars, motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, vans and double-decker buses, all vying for an inch of space, crawl forward like an urban glacier, spewing out great clouds of sulfurous exhaust.
“It’s terrible here,” says Rakibul Hasan, a 24-year-old selling bus tickets on the side of the street. “My nose is always blocked; it’s filled with dirt. I’m coughing all the time. It doesn’t take a doctor to see that this is not good for my health.”
By many measures, Dhaka has some of the worst air pollution in the world. The South Asian megacity regularly tops the rankings of IQAir, a real-time worldwide air quality monitoring index. The city’s average readings for PM10 — coarse particles of pollution like dust — and PM2.5 — fine particles mostly created by combustion — were six and nine times greater than World Health Organization guidelines between 2003 and 2019, according to a recent study in Frontiers for Sustainable Cities….
…The toxic air is having a deadly impact. The average person in Dhaka loses about eight years of their life due to air pollution, according to a study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, which has ranked Bangladesh as the country with the world’s worst air pollution every year since 2018. Research published last April in Science Advances estimated 24,000 people in Dhaka died prematurely due to air pollution between 2005 and 2018, the highest among the 46 cities studied.