On October 31, 2023, Shakti Foundation launched the first of its kind awareness billboard in Bangladesh, named “Save Your Breath – Shakti for Clean Air”, to highlight the impact of air pollution on healthy lungs. The billboard features a pair of artificial lungs made of a metal frame, steel mesh and cotton filter fabric. A simple lever system connected to the lungs enables the set-up to contract and expand imitating the breathing function. Additionally, real time Air Quality Index (AQI) from the US Embassy Air Quality Sensors are displayed on the billboard along with the WHO Permissible AQI for public health safety messaging.
As exhaust fans/ventilators fitted at the back suck the air in, the fabric had started to trap air pollutants from different sources. Over time, the lungs changed color – from chalk white to muddy brown to inky black within a span of just 21 days. Despite two rounds of blockades that restricted vehicle movement in Dhaka, the results have been an eye opener and generated quite the buzz.
As a visual demonstration of the hazardous effects of air pollution, the billboards aim to educate and sensitize the masses on community level pollutants, such as wood/fuel burning, garbage burning and private vehicle emissions. Furthermore, it is a timely intervention to kickstart action for air quality improvement on the policy side. Traffic management, unsustainable industrial practices and major construction sites require urgent and concerted efforts.
In order to take this initiative to the last mile, Shakti Foundation has showcased the billboard at Gulshan Society Lake Park, Dhaka Flow Festival and Aurora International School. We hope to inspire and educate the present and, more importantly, future generation into becoming environmental stewards and responsible decision-makers. Together we can create a culture of active civic engagement that strengthens our environmental governance and sustains our communities.