Air and Water Pollution: Causes, Effects, and Possible Solutions

Pollution is a problem encountered not only in Bangladesh but all over the world. The causes and the possible solutions to air and water pollution in Bangladesh that can be offered are basically the same, but we will consider in detail those that apply more to Bangladesh.

Causes of air pollution in Bangladesh

As in the rest of the world, the emission of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and various oxides of nitrogen by natural or artificial means into the atmosphere causes air pollution.

Generally, two main reasons have been identified for air pollution in Bangladesh-industrial and vehicular.

During their operation, factories built for various purposes are spewing out enormous quantities of harmful gases that pollute the air. Harmful gases that are emitted mining operations are also included in this category.

During their operation, factories built for various purposes are spewing out enormous quantities of harmful gasses that pollute the air, Harmful gases that are emitted during mining operations are also included in this category.

Vehicles throughout the country contribute their share to air pollution. Although all the motorized vehicles emit harmful gases, the emissions from two-stroke engines are more dangerous.

The use of leaded petrol has led to a huge amount of lead building up in the streets of the major cities. Dhaka has one of the largest amounts of lead in the air compared to all the rest of the cities in the world, about 463 nanograms per cubic meter of air.

Effects of air pollution

The effect of air pollution in Bangladesh, as anywhere else in the world, is the accumulation of harmful gases in the atmosphere. Acid rain is a major phenomenon caused by air pollution and usually has its effect far from the source of pollution.

Formation of acid rain

When acidic gases, such as sulfur dioxide or some oxides of nitrogen, are emitted into the atmosphere, they are absorbed in the moisture in the air to form acid. By the normal processes of cloud formation and rainfall, these acids come down to the earth with devastating effects.

Acid rain causes many problems for the environment

  • It increases acidity in lakes, thus making it impossible for many other life forms to survive. The biodiversity changes and species that are more tolerant of the increased acidity survive, but in most cases, the diversity decreases.
  • Acid rain releases many heavy metal ions in the ground. Often these ions are poisonous to the plant species growing there.
  • Acid rain falling directly on plants causes problems to them, in many cases leading to some form of damage to the leaves.
  • Acidification of soil can kill the soil bacteria that play an important part in many nutrient cycles and nitrogen fixation.
  • Corrosion of man-made structures.
  • Air Pollution is associated with various health hazards. Breathing in impure air causes many breathing illnesses. More serious illnesses are caused by poisonous components in the air such as lead, which causes training development disorder in children. Excessive lead in the blood can cause major organs to dysfunction.

Possible solutions to the problem of air pollution

Various methods of minimizing air pollution have been implemented or designed include:

  • introduction of four-stroke engines which pollute less
  • ban on leaded petrol
  • proper monitoring of the streets so that vehicles which polluted are identified and proper action taken again them by the authorities.
  • factories which are issuing pollutant gases should be fitted with proper purification units which minimize the harm that gases, if untreated, would do to the environment
  • vehicles should be fitted with catalytic converters, which take away some of the more harmful gases from the car exhaust and minimize acidic gases in the environment.

Causes of water pollution in Bangladesh

There are both natural and artificial causes of water pollution. The natural ones occur without any human influence.

There are point sources of water pollution, which pollute the water at discrete locations, and there are non-point sources. The point sources include industrial structures such as factories or sewage treatment plants.

Cities, including their roads and railroads, croplands, and forests, are non-point sources of pollution issuing dust, sediment, pesticides, asbestos, fertilizers, heavy metals, oil, grease, and even air pollutants washed down from the sky.

Surface water is extensively polluted by industrial and household wastes, as well as chemicals used in agriculture. Of these, the untreated wastes from the industries prove to be the most damaging. When acid rain falls it pollutes the water bodies.

A number of physical, chemical, and biochemical processes cause the alteration of groundwater properties, either by the addition of new elements or changing the present concentrations. For example:

  • Arsenic contamination in the groundwater is thought to be the largest case of water pollution in the world.
  • Industrial and household wastes disposed of on the ground above seeps into the water underground.
  • Fertilizers used in agriculture and the infiltration of saline water also contaminate groundwater.

Effects of water pollution

Water pollution leads to many health problems. Drinking impure water leads to diseases such as diarrhea. Other serious contaminants may lead to more serious illnesses, such as arsenicosis.

Possible solutions to the problem of water pollution

There can probably be no direct solution to the problem. People in general need to be more conscious of their waste disposal mechanisms. Proper waste treatment facilities need to be installed in factories so that the waste released into the environment is less harmful.

Proper precautionary measures should be taken if a material that may at times be harmful to the environment is to be released there. Such materials may include pesticides or fertilizer, and their effects on the environment should be carefully noted before they are to be used.


Almost all environmental challenges are interconnected, and one problem will lead to another- e.g. deforestation can lead to global warming and climatic change, which can lead to drought. So each problem may not necessarily have a particular solution. Possible solutions in tackling the environmental problems of the country are:

Air and Water Pollution
Air and Water Pollution

Legislation: Various environmental health, control environmental laws have been made from time to time in Bangladesh in order to protect environmental health, control environmental pollution, and conserve natural and cultural resources. Education on the environment and mass awareness is essential for achieving sustainable development.

Land: Measures should be taken to preserve existing land and enhance its quality –e.g. hill cutting should be stopped, which is greatly increasing erosion. Land reclamation must be a major undertaking the create new land in the delta.

Water pollution: Industrial effluent discharge which carries toxic waste loads is polluting the water sources. This has obviously caused harm to the health of people in affected areas. So precautionary measures should be taken to minimize the discharge of effluents.

Urbanization affects the environment both in the physical (through deforestation, soil erosion, and change in micro-climate) and the social sphere (air and water pollution and increased noise, stress, and crime). Therefore a proper National Land Use Plan is essential.

Greenhouse gases: Bangladesh will suffer the most from the rise of sea-level due to the greenhouse effect. Therefore reduction and possible elimination of the emission of greenhouse gases by industrial processes should be the main concern both at home and abroad.

Biomass: Bangladesh has one of the lowest per capita rates of energy consumption in the world. However, the vast and growing population has created an unsustainable pressure on biomass resources. As a result, forest resources have diminished to a great extent. It is obvious that biomass production has to be increased and domestic use of fuelwood has to be reduced. The large consumption of fuelwood by brickfields has also to be reduced and piped natural gas and LPG have to be used more widely and efficiently.

Trees: The keystone of Bangladesh’s environmental protection plan is the protection of tree cover. Trees provide resources for both humans and animals and also provide protection to nature. The major objectives of any environmental policy should be to increase the productivity of the horticultural trees and tree products from government land.

Forest cover: 25% of the land area of a country must be under forest cover for a desirable environmental and ecological balance. However, only 6% of Bangladesh’s land area is under forest cover. This situation can be changed by massive afforestation programs.

Preservation of wildlife is part of the campaign to protect the natural bio-diversity, at the same time enhancing the natural wealth and enriching the human environment.

Bio-diversity: The preservation of biological diversity is one of the major goals of the international attempt to save the biosphere from environmental degradation. Bio-diversity in Bangladesh is seriously threatened by extensive deforestation and drying up of wetlands for winter rice cultivation.

Fertilizers: The indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers with continuous cropping of HYV rice has created a serious soil erosion problem. This can be overcome by using organic or green fertilizer.

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