Brick kilns in and around Dhaka city are mostly responsible for the capital city’s air pollution, according to a research conducted by the country’s environment department in association with a Norway-based research institution NILU.
Physicians said the polluted air is being inhaled by the city dwellers, entering their lungs and causing different kinds of diseases.
According to the research findings, the brick kilns are causing 58 per cent of the air pollution in the city.
Other than the brick kilns, dust from the roads and bare soil cause 18 per cent of the pollution, vehicles cause 10 per cent and others sources 14 per cent.
According to another research run by the World Bank on technology use in the Bangladesh brick kilns, shows that the kilns caused 38 per cent of the air pollution in 2011.
Comparative study between the two research findings reveals that the air pollution in the city has been increased by 20 per cent in past few years.
World Health Organization (WHO) conducted research on the city’s pollution in 2016. Its findings show that Dhaka ranked as the third megacity where microbial sources are strongly present. On the chart, India’s Delhi has been ranked first while Egypt’s Cairo second.
Abul Fazal Mohammad Helal Uddin, assistant professor of the medicine department at the Sir Salimullah Medical College, said people suffer from asphyxia due to the air pollution.
Those already affected by the disease will suffer more. Various skin diseases, including allergies and itching, may be caused by the air pollution, he added.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) joint secretary Sharif Jamil told Prothom Alo that brick kilns around the Dhaka city are primarily responsible for the air pollution as a high level of sulphur is being used in the kilns.
The owners are being allowed to use coal in their kilns without testing the sulphur level.
Bangladesh brick manufacturing owners association secretary general Md Abu Bakar said there are more than 1000 brick kilns in and around the city.
The level of pollution can be reduced with the use of a water sprinkler above the chimney. Abu Bakar said, as the technology is expensive, the owners are reluctant to use it.
According to a study of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 2 lakh 32 thousand square feet of land is required for a brick kiln. This is taking over agricultural land.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said, “We should think of an alternative mechanism to replace this technology.”
She also said the brick kilns are prime sources of greenhouse gas in the country. Brick kilns produce an approximately 8.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas each year that burn 2.2 million of tonnes coal and 1.9 million tonnes of firewood.
*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition is rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam