By: Panav R, Nithin P and Pooja R
The Real Threat
Bangladesh's largest industry of profit and national pride is also its biggest weakness. With its kilns that yield over 23 billion bricks, the brick building business also produces clouds of harmful particles into the atmosphere. In fact, Bangladesh has been named the world’s most polluted country for PM 2.5, which represents atmospheric particulate matter, a commonly used measurement depicting particle pollution in a country. Compared to the average PM 2.5 level in America of 12 micrograms per cubic meter, Bangladesh’s air quality consists of a high 120 micrograms per cubic meter.
Victims of Their Own Work
The air pollution in Dhaka has affected the lives of its citizens and jeopardized their health. Studies suggest that air pollution caused the death of 14,000 lives in 2014. Two years later, it was responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Bangladesh citizens. Due to the severity of pollution in this country, the death toll has continued to grow as the government fails to properly handle the situation.
Difficulties in Dhaka
The real question now arises: why is pollution becoming such a huge issue? In Dhaka, since there are so many bricks produced, it releases life-threatening toxins, such as nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide, into the air which people end up inhaling. Exposure to such dangerous chemicals for long periods of time can lead to several types of diseases.
Despite a multitude of warnings from hourly readings indicating damaging levels of air quality, a serious call to action has still not been found. To what extent are we going to continue to let this be an issue? What matters here is securing a safe enough environment such that people are not exposed to chemicals throughout the day. It is a difficult situation to fix, but it has to be done. If this continues, more and more innocent people will suffer from chemicals released by their own work, and more lives will be lost than ever before.
As much of the problem has arisen from industrial brick kilns, the device used to make the bricks, the government plans to limit the number the size of new kiln facilities. However, in order to see better results in the air, the brickmaking industry must be able to rightfully expand in order to meet the global demand for bricks, but all the while not create a biohazard. Combating the issue of air pollution is a lengthy process but with the help of foreign countries, government aid, or even organizations dedicated to the cause like icimod.org, Bangladesh and its citizens can reclaim their air.