Bangladesh uses less fossil fuel than many countries but still has the second highest rate of mortality caused by air pollution from burning fossil fuel in the world.
As high as 36.5 per cent of the overall annual air pollution-related deaths are attributable to air pollution caused by burning fossil fuel such as gas, coal, petrol and diesel, said a new study released globally recently.
This high rate of deaths placed Bangladesh just after China which has 40 per cent of its overall air pollution-related mortality because of inhaling pollutants emitted from fossil fuel combustion, said the study jointly conducted by four international universities, including Harvard University.
The per capita fossil fuel consumption in Bangladesh, according to Our World in Data, a global online statistics provider, was only 6,303 MWh in 2019 against 23,373 MWh in China.
‘The reason behind the high mortality rate in Bangladesh is a complete lack of regulation,’ said Professor Abdus Salam, who teaches chemistry at Dhaka University.
He said that countries such as China put in place strict regulation to control fossil fuel pollution and significantly brought down the concentration of PM 2.5 in the air.
But Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, continues to have a very high level of PM 2.5 concentration in the air, he said.
Assessing meteorological data from 2012, the study found that the concentration of PM 2.5 in each cubic meter of air, due to fossil fuel burning, was 52.3 micrograms in Bangladesh in 2012, which was the second highest in the world in the year.
The overall concentration of PM 2.5 was 58.9 micrograms per cubic meter of air in the country, revealed the study, underscoring that fossil fuel combustion was mostly responsible for its polluted air.
In recent years, the overall air quality deteriorated further with the PM 2.5 concentration in each cubic meter of air hovering around 100 micrograms on average round the year while it drastically fell in other countries such as China.
China has already reached its target of bringing down the PM 2.5 concentration to 35 micrograms per cubic meter air in its many cities from as high as 800 micrograms, said experts.
But Bangladesh still does not have such a target to improve the air quality.
‘I am not sure if we have such a target but I can tell you that we are trying to curb air pollution,’ said environment, forest and climate change minister Md Shahab Uddin.
‘The death rate would have been higher if we had not controlled air pollution,’ he said.