Air pollution threat: Pak-EPA wants brick kilns to shift to natural gas
By Atif Khan
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) plans to ask brick kiln owners to switch to natural gas from a conventional heating system, aiming to control increasing air pollution in the city.
Pak-EPA Director General (DG) Asif Shuja Khan told Daily Times on Tuesday that various surveys had identified smoke billowing from industries and brick kilns as a major contributor to the air pollution.
Burning of organic material, tyres and raw coal for baking bricks at over 90 kilns in the city environs discharges volumes of carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen peroxide, soot and other chemicals, contributing directly to degradation of air quality, he said, adding, decomposition of such chemicals was rare, as those could cover hundreds of miles from their origin.
Talking about the project, he said the Pak-EPA had requested United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to finance those brick kiln owners, under its Project Development Fund, who could not afford consumption of gas to ply trade.
Carbon credits: “This is a fit case for earning carbon credits (CCs),” the DG said. He said enterprises of the developed countries were habitual to generating the CCs by shifting to cleaner technologies and thereby saving on energy consumption. Khan said the CCs were also helpful in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The enterprise can earn one CC and get a carbon emission certificate on saving one ton of carbon dioxide, one of the GHGs, Khan said, adding, the certificate could be sold on open market like any other commodity. He said the UNDP could later retrieve its investment amount when the carbon credit money was transferred to a local business entity.
Health risks: Dr Muhammad Zaman, former chief of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences’ Pulmonology Department, said gases emitted by brick kilns were injurious to health, as they caused bronchitis and made respiratory tract infectious. He said all such chemicals were carcinogenic and caused lung and skin cancers.
Harmful gases can also make one to suffer from chronic bronchitis that may lead to incurable and fatal emphysema, he said. Dr Zaman said that organic pollutants, regardless of their density, were harming the whole ecosystem due to their extremely hazardous nature.
Appreciating the Pak-EPA decision on introducing use of natural gas to the kilns, he said implementation of the project would reduce hazardous effects on human health. He said until the kilns were shifted to natural gas, their chimneys should be fixed at a maximum height. He urged people residing in surroundings of the kilns to use masks to avoid inhalation of dangerous chemicals.