Bangladesh Air Quality Fact Sheet 2021

Bangladesh is currently the world’s most polluted country, with air quality at levels that are dangerously low for human health. With its streets full of pollutant-heavy activities, such as industrial factories, dust burning, and mega project sites, residents in cities such as Dhaka are feeling the burden by having to face unprecedented levels of air pollution.

How Air Quality in Bangladesh Affects Life Expectancy

When air pollution, often measured by Particulate Matter (PM) concentration, is as grave as it is in Bangladesh, it can significantly lower the life expectancy of the average person by several years.

Here are some of the most alarming facts in relation to life expectancy and PM2.5 concentrations:

  • In many Bangladeshi cities, PM2.5 concentrations are anywhere from 6 to 16 times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety guidelines.
  • Every resident of Bangladesh currently lives in a region with PM2.5 pollution levels that greatly exceed the WHO’s acceptable standard (5 µg/m³).
  • Some cities experience as much as 90 µg/m³ of PM2.5 concentration in the air.
  • Current levels of air pollution are estimated to shorten the average person’s life expectancy by 6.7 years.
  • In the most polluted district, air pollution is estimated to decrease life expectancy by 8.1 years; even in the least polluted district, air quality is estimated to decrease residents’ life expectancy by 4.8 years.

Dhaka City, Bangladesh: High-Risk Air Quality Factors

As the most polluted urban center in the country, and one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world, Dhaka experiences levels of PM pollution that exceed both the national standards and the WHO’s guidelines daily.

A study on urban air pollution in Bangladesh concludes that:

  • 70% of the city’s roadsides are severely polluted.
  • The current air quality may potentially have “very concerning” consequences on the health of city residents.
  • Ambient levels of PM2.5 and PM10 both exceed the national standard and WHO guidelines on a daily basis.
  • Air quality measurements indicate that the city’s air quality is worsening.

Bangladesh’s Biggest Air Quality Concern

According to a 2019 study on air pollution in Bangladesh and its implications on the health of residents, these were some of the biggest conclusions:

  • A 2019 study identified PM2.5 and PM10 levels as the country’s greatest concern for air pollution.
  • Particulate matter concentrations were of the biggest concern during the monsoon off-season. During monsoon season, PM2.5 and PM10 were 5 to 6 times the levels during winter and off-season.
  • Gaseous pollutant concentrations, SO2, NO2, CO, and O3, were observed to have much less frequently exceeded the acceptable standards.

Bangladesh Air Quality Warrants Caution

When living in an area with high levels of pollution such as Bangladesh, it is recommended to consistently monitor ambient air quality and reduce exposure to heavily polluted areas, especially during peak hours.

Purple Air provides accurate real-time updates on PM concentrations through measurements from their network for air quality monitors. Check the PurpleAir Map to stay up to date on local air quality levels and plan accordingly.

References

https://aqli.epic.uchicago.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/BangladeshFactSheet2020.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305728929_Urban_air_pollution_a_Bangladesh_perspective

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30427285/

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