Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in brick production. Brick kilns are a major cause of environmental pollution and health risks. Bricks is a significant part in a construction material. In Bangladesh, set up about 8,000 brick fields without any clear environmental guidelines (The Financial Express, 2013). Usually brick fields or brick kiln in Bangladesh are situated in open field areas, and those are near by the agricultural areas. Otherwise the brick fields are situated in the town and major construction sites. But according to the brick kiln control (amended) Act-2001, “there must be no establishment of brick kilns within a three-kilometer radius of human in habilitation or reserved forest” (The Daily Star, 2014).
In our country, we know that, 8,000 brick fields situated and every day burning the huge amount of wood to produce the brick. And also produces the countless amount of black smog. Black smoke are the dangerous for the environment. Most brick kilns low energy efficiency and that are highly polluting the environment. The weak financial situation of most kiln operators hinders the adoption of modern technologies and thus affecting arable lands, agricultural productivity and environment negatively.
Black smoke from brick kilns moves away from species which are involved in pollination process, in turn declines agricultural production (Islam and Rahman, 2011). There are more than seven thousand brick kilns in the country. More than 23 billion bricks are being produced in Bangladesh every day. The brick industry contributes about one percent to the GDP. About TK 205 billion a year is being added to GDP from brick factories. More than one million people are working in the country’s brick kilns.
Brick kilns in Dhaka city mostly responsible for air pollution. According to the research findings, the brick kilns are causing 58 percent of the air pollution in the Dhaka city. Dust from roads and bare soil causes 18 percent of the pollution, vehicles cause 10 percent, and others sources 14 percent. According to the another research run by the World Bank on technology use in the Bangladesh brick kilns that the kilns caused 38 percent of the air pollution in 2011. Brick kilns are the prime sources of greenhouse gas in the country. Brick kilns are produce an approximately 8.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas each year that burn 2.2 million tonnes coal and 1.9 million tonnes of firewood. The adverse effect of air pollution on vegetation have been well reviewed in terms of foliar injury, physiological as well as yield characteristics (Singh and Rao, 1981)
Brick kilns in agricultural lands, low quality wooden fuel in brick kiln, improper fixed chimneys and the violation of laws to conserve environments and hazards sectors into a major cause of agricultural productivity decline, pollution of environments and hazards towards human health (Guttikunda and Khaliquzzaman 2014). Brick kilns are the main source of air pollution. Huge amount of black smoke that effect on the environment and adversely effect on the human body and damage the agricultural fields. Particulate pollutants and many gaseous emanating from brick kilns negative impact on the coordination vegetation. The toxic smoke from the brick kiln mixes with the human body and environment very quickly.
Brick kilns have the negative impact on the environment, that impacts are divided into the two way, short term and long term impact of the environment. Reducing the crop production, deforestation, hampering normal vegetation are the short term effect and impacts of ozone layer depletion, production of photochemical smog, global warming, reduction in land fertility, etc. (Pokhrel, 2011). One top soil is removed for making the bricks, the brick takes 25 to 30 years for those lands to regain fertility. Brick kilns emissions damage the crops. The brick fields cuts off the soil of the crop land and damages the roads due to its transportation.
The toxic smoke from the brick kiln burns and fades the trees of different species, starting from the crops of the land. The fish in the pond dies, the vegetables, and the land loses its fertility. Public life and livelihood are endangered. A study on the presence of heavy metals in agricultural lands and possible sources of these substances in 2015 stated that presence of heavy metals cadmium and lead in the surrounding brick kilns (Sikder et., 2015). Conventional brick kilns not only pollute the air but also transfer these pollutants from the air to the soil in various atmospheric ways and greatly accelerate the soil pollution, which destroy the balance of essential nutrients in the soils.
Most of the brick kilns in Bangladesh are properly designed, which causes incomplete combustion of coals (Ahmed, 2007). Incomplete combustion produce carbon monoxide (CO), which increases risk for heart disease. If rubber tires are used as fuel then along with carbon monoxide (CO), emissions from brick kilns comprises of fine dust particles, hydrocarbons, sulpher dioxide (SO2), particulate pollutants, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), floride compounds and small amount of carcinogenic dioxins (Joshi and Dudani; WHO, 2013). Mainly brick kilns use wood, recycled motor oil, coal, diesel, rubber tire, trash, and plastics as fuel. The amount of oxygen decreased and the amount of various carbon compounds increases at an alarming rate. This also increases the temperature of the atmosphere. People of all ages, including children, suffer from respiratory problems, eye irritation, headache, skin disease, bronchitis, asthma, and various complex lung diseases, leading to gradual death. The people living far away from the brick kiln are also suffered from health problems. Joshi and Dudani observed that peoples who living near brick kilns are more likely to suffer from illness, comparing those who are living in areas without the brick kilns.
Due to the presence of brickfields around the cultivable land, the amount of crops that used to be produced is decreasing day by day. As a result, the farmers are facing losses. And the farmers fell into financial crisis. This has an impact on public health. Studies show that particulate matter is seriously harmful for both adults and children. Particulate matter is deadly to health. When those contaminants from the brick kiln enter the human body through respirator, the respiratory system is damaged, which lowers the immune system, as a result, the health risks are higher among the people living around the brickyard. So, we need to create awareness about this impact.
Author is a Student of Environmental Science and Engineering Department at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh—2224, Bangladesh