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13 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Pollution surges at an alarming rate

The world is experiencing a marked increase in light pollution at night, a study has found, with the changes potentially playing havoc with our sleeping patterns and stopping us seeing the clear sky
Rayhan Ahmed Topader
Pollution surges at an alarming rate

Indoor air pollution levels are reported to be higher with biomass fuel, and a number of respiratory diseases in children are associated with pollution from burning such fuel. However, little is known about the situation in developing countries. The aim of the study was to compare indoor air pollution levels and prevalence of symptoms in children between biomass- and fossil-fuel-using households in different seasons in Bangladesh. More than 4.5m affected, says UN group, while tests suggest children’s shorter height increases exposure on busy roads. More than 4.5 million children in the UK are growing up in areas with toxic levels of air pollution, the UN children’s organisation Unicef has warned. Tests suggesting that children walking along busy roads are exposed to a third more air pollution than adults, as their shorter height places them close to passing car exhausts, were also released recently. The Unicef report found that almost a third of under-18s live in places with unsafe levels of small particulate pollution, including 1.6 million under-fives and 270,000 babies. The analysis is based on the World Health Organization limit set in 2005, which is 60% lower than the legal limit in England and Wales. The UK government has lost three times in the high court for failing to deal with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution and is now being taken to Europe’s highest court. On Wednesday, MPs from four select committees said serious concerns remained over the government’s commitment to reducing the impact of air pollution on public health. The latest government action plan sets a goal to halve the number of people living in areas above WHO particulate limits by 2025. Amy Gibbs, at Unicef UK, said: The findings force us to face a shocking reality about the acute impact on children’s health. Worryingly, one third of our children could be filling their lungs with toxic air that puts them at risk of serious, long-term health conditions.

Honestly, I had thought and assumed and hoped that with LEDs we were turning the corner. Light pollution is on the rise in countries like the UK, US and Germany.

The world is experiencing a marked increase in light pollution at night, a study has found, with the changes potentially playing havoc with our sleeping patterns and stopping us seeing stars. Scientists were surprised to see that the adoption of energy efficient bulbs across the developed world nonetheless coincided with an increase in light pollution and could actually be masking a bigger problem. From 2012 to 2016, the surface area of the planet that is artificially lit at night time grew by more than 2 per cent each year. Scientists now say that people’s sleep could be impaired as a result, which would be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. Late Love Island star Sophie Gradon posted heartbreaking tweet days before her death.Why Qatar will be even worse than Russia for fans travelling to the World Cup.Women rugby players' kiss prompts outpouring of solidarity after criticism: The ecosystem is also at risk, with the changes impacting the migration and reproduction patterns of birds, fish, amphibians, insects and bats. And if the trend continues, seeing the Milky Way or stars in the night sky from inside towns and cities could soon become a thing of the past. The findings were made by GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences using data from a NASA satellite, and published in the journal of Science Advances. The scientists concluded that light pollution was on the rise in some of the world’s brightest nations, like the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy. The measurements coincide with the outdoor switch to energy-efficient and cost-saving light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. Christopher Kyba of the GFZ team said that the findings shattered the long-held notion that more energy efficient lighting would decrease usage on a global scale.

Although parents can reduce this impact by walking on less polluted roads, the UK government must take further steps to reduce toxic emissions on all roads. The environment secretary, Michael Gove, said the school run tests were troubling: This a further demonstration of why we need to take strong action now to improve air quality. He said the government was acting, but added: “By taking simple steps, like leaving the car at home for the school run, we can work together to reduce air pollution and protect our health. Lack of funding for local authorities to tackle air pollution is a key issue, the select committee MPs said. The car industry is partly responsible for our toxic streets, and seeing the government resist calls for an industry-financed Clean Air Fund is incomprehensible, said Neil Parish MP, chair of the environment committee. Bangladesh is one of the least developed nations in the world. Since it’s beginning (1971), there has been some growth in the industrial sector. Industries are mainly concentrated in major urban metropolitan areas such as Dhaka and Rajshahi; seaport cities such as Chittagong and Khulna; the inland port city Narayanganj; and other divisional towns. Obviously, the air pollution problem is more severe in these areas. Apart from unplanned industrial development in these areas, the severity of the pollution is increased mainly due to exhausts from two-stroke engine and diesel-run vehicles. The newspaper, New Nation, published in 2010, mentioned that the pollution-vomiting vehicles (20 to 25 years old vehicles) are again on the high roads. Many owners have changed bodies of their old buses and also tinted those but the engines are the same. These unfit busses are creating traffic jam and making the air polluted by blowing up black smoke, causing serious health hazards to the commuters.

Recently, the government has decided to launch a drive in Dhaka city to remove 25-year-old buses, minibuses and trucks from the street as one of the measures to ease the nagging traffic congestion according to a 2010 article from Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper. The New Age newspaper mentioned in a 2010 article that this drive, mainly aimed at solving traffic jam and checking environment pollution, would certainly help to reduce air pollution in the city, too. More than eight million children live with illegal levels of air pollution, figures show. Around three-fifths of youngsters live in areas where limits have been breached. Each year 40,000 premature deaths in the UK are said to occur due to rising contamination. More than eight million children live in areas of the UK with illegal levels of air pollution, figures suggest. Some 8.3 million under-18s live in local authority areas where levels of harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide exceeded legal limits in 2015, according to analysis by the Labour Party of figures from the House of Commons Library. Around three-fifths of youngsters were living in areas across the UK where pollution limits were breached in 2015, the estimates show. All children in London face illegal pollution levels, as the air quality limits were exceeded in all boroughs in the capital. Outside London, Yorkshire and the Humber was the worst affected region, with an estimated 83 per cent of youngsters living in areas with illegal pollution, followed by the North East, North West and West Midlands.  The Department of Environment (DOE) recently signed an agreement with the Norwegian Institute of Air Research (NILU), under which Bangladesh will receive a $1.3 million U.S. dollars grant for air quality and research.

The grant will be utilized for aid quality monitoring across the country, a first ever study on the country’s air quality impact on health, inventorying the sectoral emission and green house gases (GHGs), air quality modeling and development of an air quality forecasting system. It is the city’s moral duty to protect its people from any kind of health related problems. Paying no attention to these issues results in grief and death. What we foresee, 10 years from now, is that our young children won’t be able to smell what their mothers are cooking. Rather, they will be inhaling and exhaling only polluted air. One has to remember that the arrogant roar of an engine can easily drown the crying of a child. The level of lead poisoning is a major factor responsible for decreasing the mental abilities of the children as a result of which the country will have acute shortage of intellectuals in the long run. The only way to enhance the ethical accountability of public administration is the Bangladesh government should immediately translate its National Environmental Policy and Transport Policy into action. It was suggested that the measured indoor air pollution did not directly result in symptoms among children. Other factors may be involved.    

The writer is a contributor to

The Independent

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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