Staff Reporter, Dhaka : Visual pollution is a major cause of vision and mental health problems. Every year, an estimated 270,000 children in Dhaka suffer from eye fatigue and severe headaches. This information was revealed in research carried out by Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) in 2022. Based on the results of the research, ESDO has prepared a report entitled “Visual Pollution in The City of Dhaka: A Public Health, Environmental and Traffic Distraction”. The report was presented at a media briefing held Sunday at its headquarters.
ESDO’s study has found that visual pollution causes more than 24% of people to suffer from eye fatigue among which children are the worse sufferers. Each year approximately 270,000 children in Dhaka city receive treatment for suffering from eye strain and severe headaches, based on data compiled from 27 hospitals and clinics in the city of Dhaka. Furthermore, the residents of Dhaka city who are suffering from mental illness have reached nearly 17%.
The study showed that the death rate due to road accidents increased by 40%, which is 8,800 people in mid-2022 as opposed to 5,227 people in 2019. Visual pollution has been identified as one of the top causes of road accidents, ranking alongside overtaking, reckless driving, and intoxicated driving. The worst-case scenario is that 95.89% of people aren’t even aware that visual pollution has been affecting their lives seriously for a very long time.
Billboards, cables, wires, decaying structures, stacked-high construction materials, graffiti, etc. are just a few examples of the various irregular forms that are referred to as “visual pollution” and prevent people from fully appreciating a perspective or view. Visual pollution describes the apparent deterioration and low aesthetic quality of natural and man-made landscapes close to people. Because visual pollution disturbs both natural and man-made habitats, it interferes with a place’s ability to be useful and enjoyable while also limiting the ability of the wider ecological system, which includes both humans and animals, to grow and flourish there.
During the media briefing, former Secretary and ESDO President Syed Marghub Murshed said the issue of visual pollution must be tackled in series. He called on the government to act to protect public health and the environment from visual pollution. Syed Murshed said we must raise awareness of visual pollution and educate enforcement agencies in order to reduce the risk of visual pollution.
Presenting the findings of the report ESDO Secretary General and Study Team Leader Dr. Shahriar Hossain informed the media that, types of visual pollution include billboards, cable wire and power poles, haze, excessive traffic signs, garbage or rubbish dumps, urban graffiti, light/ neon sign pollution generated by excess lights, and digital billboards. Visual pollution such as plastic bags, trash, etc., has worsened the present scenario which has been caused by the general public’s ignorance of environmental issues.
Dr. Shahriar said, exposure to visual pollution can have far-reaching consequences. They include distraction, decreases in opinion diversity, loss of identity, traffic congestion, various types of health hazards, irritability and psychological disturbances, eye fatigue, mental illness, loss of sense of hygiene and aesthetics, a feeling of civility, and overall loss of the residing community’s quality of life. Children who have been exposed to visual pollution since childhood, are often devoid of subtle aesthetics, and they become accustomed to their unpleasant surroundings, losing their natural impulse to rectify them he added.
The study report has been presented by Maliha Hoque, Senior Program Associate of ESDO. Amongst other guests Senior Technical Advisor of ESDO and former chairman of Chemical Division, BSTI, Professor Dr. Md. Abul Hashem and Dr. Hasnat M Alamgir, Professor, State University were presented at the event.