Air pollution in Bangladesh is robbing the South Asian nation of economic growth as well as causing premature death and illness, the World Bank said on Sunday.

Pollution sapped gross domestic product by 3.9% to 4.4% in 2019 and was the second-biggest cause of death and disability, the global lender said in a report.

That year air pollution caused 78,145 to 88,229 deaths, the World Bank estimated, with the capital Dhaka the most polluted in the country.

"Ambient air pollution puts everyone at risk," from children to the elderly, said Dandan Chen, acting country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. "Addressing air pollution is critical for the country's sustainable and green growth and development."

Sites in Dhaka, Bangladesh's largest city, with major construction and persistent traffic have fine particulate matter equivalent to smoking 1.7 cigarettes a day, it said.

The least polluted region was Sylhet, the report said.

A World Health Organization study of 6,475 cities in March found that no country met its air quality standard in 2021.

(Reporting by Baranjot Kaur in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)