For the first time, the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Sky was celebrated.
By Zeba Tarannum
Finally, the United Nations has designated the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Sky. Because of recognizing the need for clean air for life, global air pollution, the extreme effects of air pollution on human life and the environment, and the seriousness of the current state of air pollution globally and the need to overcome it immediately.
According to the decision taken at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly held on December 19, 2019, the day will be observed worldwide on September 7 every year.
And the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) will take the initiative to mark the day internationally every year. As such, clean air for Blue Sky Day is being celebrated for the first time Internationally on September 7, 2020.
Air pollution is currently one of the top five causes of death globally; Every year, around 7 million people die prematurely worldwide due to air pollution, which is much higher than the number of deaths caused by any other environmental pollution.
Not only that, air pollution-related illnesses significantly reduce the performance of people whose financial value is immense; As seen in a study, people in the Indian subcontinent had about 20 percent less lung function than Europeans.
For which in this region, excessive air pollution has been cited as one of the reasons. It is a matter of fear that air pollution’s harmful effects are not limited to human health; it also has a severe impact on plants and animals. Even air pollution is playing an essential role in climate change.
Especially Black-carbon and weight are called ‘short-lived climate plutons’ for playing a role in climate change. Despite all the multidimensional harmful effects of air pollution, there is still no international treaty or agreement to control it.
Only the countries of the European Union themselves are bound by a regional agreement that sets emissions limits for each country that governments have to pay fines for exceeding. In such a reality, it is time to raise global public-political awareness and take effective action internationally to control air pollution.
In this view, the International Day dedicated to clean air is essential and significant enough. Moreover, the day can be made meaningful through extensive research and discussion on the improvements in air quality that have observed as a result of different countrywide lockdown in response to the ongoing unwanted pandemic of Covid-19 coronavirus worldwide.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the rapid transition from the then fragile economic situation led to the setting up of factories and coal burning in those factories all over Europe and America. Many cities in those countries became more involved in the development and competition of trade and commerce.
Meanwhile, on January 6, 1948, the sky over the city of Los Angeles in the United States was covered with smoke, and many people became ill. Shortly afterward, in December 1952, London and its surrounding areas were shrouded in smoke for about five days, leaving about 4,000 people dead.
These two events are known in history as “The Los Angeles Photochemical Smog” and “The London Sulfur Smog.” These two incidents make people aware of air pollution’s horrors by letting them know that air pollution is capable of causing human death.
In the 70 years since then, the world’s population has grown, urbanization has increased, and industrial expansion and energy consumption have multiplied. In this situation, most of the world’s inhabited areas are now in the grip of air pollution.
According to the survey, 90% of the world’s population now lives in unsafe air as defined by the World Health Organization. The picture of air pollution in some regions, especially in Asia, is particularly terrifying; The list compiled by the World Health Organization, which reviews the air quality of about 1,600 cities around the world, includes the top 20 most polluted cities in South Asia.
Although Narayanganj is only one of the 20 cities in Bangladesh, there is no relief. According to the Department of Environment’s Air Quality Monitoring, air quality in Dhaka and Gazipur is very close to air quality in Narayanganj. Other cities in the country (Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, etc.) are also bad enough.
In this situation, there is no alternative to taking initiatives to control air pollution through the state, regional and international laws, agreements,/compromises. Note that air pollutants, especially small particles, can contaminate other countries/territories by floating thousands of miles in the air.
A few days ago, the Sahara Desert’s effects were covered in dust on the far coast of America. Sahara dust, however, pollutes European cities more. In Sumatra, Indonesia, a fire in the Peat Land Forest in July-October each year, degrades Malaysia and Singapore across the Strait of Malacca.
According to various research papers, pollutants from sources in northern and northeast of India and Nepal may have polluted the air in different parts of our country during the dry season.
In 2001, the Department of Environment set up a full-time Air Monitoring Center (CAMS) on the Parliament House premises to begin air management in the country. At present, there are about 31 big and small CAMS under the department.
Although all the country’s divisional cities are now under air monitoring, the network needs to be expanded at the Upazila level for a universal air quality management. Air monitoring equipment also needs to be installed at the border to diagnose cross-border pollution accurately.
In addition to CAMS, cost-effective sensor-based air monitoring devices can be installed in this work. CAMS and devices must be installed, but the quality of the data produced must ensure.
Along with that, one has to acquire expertise in data management, analysis, and data interpretation; only then will it be possible to provide the necessary air quality management information from monitoring. Also, all types of sources, large and small, across the country should be brought under the GIS-based inventory – It is vital for scientific solutions in airborne management.
The Department of Environment has so far only completed the list of brick-kilns and steel mills. Suppose it is possible to produce quality data from air monitoring and emission inventory across the country.
It will be possible to determine air management policy in different areas in different seasons from the office – And it will be fair and cost-effective. For this, the draft ‘Clean Air Act’ prepared by the Bangladesh government needs to be finalized quickly and implemented in law.
The atmosphere in the six seasons of Bangladesh is quite complex; Atmospheric character changes with seasons’ change. For example, when the coronavirus outbreak in Dhaka city was declared ‘closed’ from March 26, about 70% of vehicles, all construction types, and a large part of the surrounding industries were shut down.
However, despite the closure of so many air pollution sources, air quality in Dhaka has not improved by more than 10%, which is surprising. Thus, accurate information and science-based management can provide an effective way to control the air.
Ref. – GreenPage Bengali Version