Chemical pollution grave threat to health


Over one-third (35%) of ischemic heart disease, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and about 42% of strokes, the second largest contributor to global mortality, occur mainly for exposure to harmful chemicals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Experts say, this could be prevented by reducing exposure to chemicals.

According to Asian Water Development data, Bangladesh has the most polluted rivers of the 48 countries in Asia and the Pacific, especially all the rivers streaming through urban areas as most factories have been built beside rivers. Chemicals such as heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, paints, detergents, kerosene, carbon monoxide and drugs lead to unintentional poisonings at home and in the workplace. The WHO study reveals that unintended poisonings are estimated to cause 193,000 deaths annually with the major part being from preventable chemical exposures.

Physician Nazmul Haque of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) said to Bangladesh Post, “exposure to various chemicals occurs every day and through multiple means such as ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact and via the umbilical cord to the unborn child. Many chemicals are harmless or even beneficial, others are a threat to our health.”

The risk of chemical contamination in food is increasing slowly, but surely. Particularly, even after the government's various steps, waste management in industrial factories is not yet at a safe level, he added. He feared that if soil contamination continues for industrial chemicals, it will gradually increase and cause serious pollution to the soil. Soil contamination via chemical will result in contamination of agricultural land, and eventually, this will endanger public health.

According to the Environment Department survey, there are still 4,000 tonnes of waste and 57 million gallons of polluted water in the river around the capital every day. Outside the capital, at Ashulia in Savar, a new leather industry, is increasing pollution in the city's waste. Most of these factories do not use waste purification equipment. Especially during the dry season from November to April, river water contamination reaches dangerous levels.

Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Dhaka, Dr Ahmed Kamruzzaman Majumder said, ‘previously many researches showed that industrial pollution, presence of municipal waste, chemical waste, unplanned sanitation system affected the people who lived beside the river making them the most vulnerable. Their health directly is affected by chemical pollution.

He suggested that ensuring the application of organic fertilizers and biotechnology instead of using chemical fertilizers, pesticides to protect soil quality can be an alternative.