(Bloomberg) -- Bangladesh’s economic losses from ambient air pollution are estimated to be as much as 4.4% of the country’s gross domestic product, the World Bank said.
Air pollution was estimated to have caused between 78,145 and 88,229 deaths, and between 1 billion and 1.1 billion days lived with illness in Bangladesh in 2019, according to the report published Sunday. It assessed the short-term impact on physical and mental health due to exposure to outdoor air pollution using data from 12,250 individuals in Dhaka and Sylhet.
Climate Migration Pushes Bangladesh’s Megacity Capital to Brink
Bangladesh was ranked as the most polluted country in the world, and Dhaka as the second most polluted city each year between 2018 and 2021. Air pollution was deemed the second largest risk factor leading to deaths and disability in Bangladesh in 2019, with four out of the top five causes of total deaths being directly associated with its exposure.
“Ambient air pollution puts everyone at risk, from a child to an elderly,” said Dandan Chen, acting World Bank country director for Bangladesh. “Addressing air pollution is critical for the country’s sustainable and green growth and development.”
The report finds that the sites with major construction and persistent traffic in Dhaka city have the highest level of air pollution. At these sites, the fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, considered most hazardous to health, is on average 150% above the World Health Organization air quality guidelines, which is equivalent to smoking about 1.7 cigarettes per day.
The second highest concentration of PM2.5 levels is found near brick kilns in Greater Dhaka, which is 136% above the WHO guidelines – equivalent to smoking 1.6 cigarettes per day.
The Rapid Rise of Megacities Is Unsustainable, Think Tank Says
The report also showed the prevalence of depression across the study sites. Depression is most reported in locations with persistent traffic and major construction areas at 13.7%, while rates reported among those living near brick kilns were at 11.2%.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.