The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Air pollution silent killer of Kabul residents

Kabul is one of the most polluted capitals in the world. As the air cools and Kabul residents directly use coal, firewood, and other smoke-emitting materials to heat their homes and generators for electricity, pollution increases. In the mornings and evenings these days, columns of smoke rise toward the Kabul sky from apartments, houses, and baths. Air pollution has a negative impact on all living beings on Earth. As mentioned, air pollution is the fourth leading cause of premature death globally, claiming the lives of 5.5 million people annually. Nevertheless, the air in Kabul remains in its most polluted and hazardous state. However, the National Environment Protection Authority has not provided any statistics on the level of air pollution in Kabul, and international environmental organizations also lack statistics on Kabul’s air pollution. In 2021, Kabul was among the top 10 polluted cities globally, and Afghanistan was the fourth most polluted country in the world. This year, pollution has increased compared to the previous year due to poverty, as the majority of the people lack enough facilities to heat homes with standard fuels. On the other hand, the lack of electricity and outages have led to an increased use of non-standard fuels. The most significant factor in air pollution is the use of non-standard fuels. Over the past 20 years, urbanization in Kabul has seen significant growth, and the heating systems of most of these neighborhoods and tall buildings operate on coal. Coal is one of the most polluting types of fossil fuels not used in most other countries. However, in countries where coal is used, it is introduced to the market after a chemical process that reduces its smoke, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants. But in Kabul and other regions of Afghanistan, coal is directly supplied to the market from mines, exacerbating pollution. Unfortunately, coal is now not readily available for most people in Kabul, and they resort to highly flammable materials such as Mazut and rubber, which are the most environmentally hazardous substances. Moreover, in the city of Kabul, there are over a million vehicles in circulation. All these vehicles use undesirable fuels with lead concentrations exceeding the standard, as petroleum traders import cheaper materials into Afghanistan but sell them to the public at the standard oil price. Air pollution in Kabul is dubbed the ‘silent killer’ because, although most people are aware of the deadly nature of air pollution, they take the most minor steps to improve Kabul’s air, perhaps because they lack the means to change the situation. Pollution is silently and noiselessly claiming lives, especially those of older people and children in this city. The first negative effect of air pollution on human health is the occurrence of respiratory problems, making them more severe. Furthermore, air pollution causes eye diseases, heart attacks, skin diseases, and even cancer. In such a situation, with insufficient electricity and an increase in gas prices, experts recommend that citizens use masks when outdoors and try not to leave their homes in the morning and evening. However, these recommendations are not practical. People are forced to leave their homes in the morning, when the air is heavily polluted, to go to work, university, and school and return home for dinner in polluted air. Everyone is exposed to the dangers of Kabul’s polluted air, and in the long term, the health of all is affected by it. However, addressing the problem of air pollution is not a priority for citizens and the government, and this ‘silent tsunami’ threatens the health of us all. The Islamic Emirate must undertake fundamental and essential actions to address this silent tsunami. Alongside that, the people also have a significant responsibility not to use the means and tools that cause and exacerbate air pollution in the country. They must fulfill their individual and social responsibility in this regard. Mashal Noori

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.