There are around 20,000 brick kilns in Pakistan. Many are located around urban areas and contribute significantly to air pollution. Pakistan’s brick sector is highly unregulated and uncoordianted but is responsible for 1.5% of Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product.
Traditional brick production in Pakistan consists of hand-made bricks which are baked in Fixed Chimney Bull's Trench Kilns (FCBTK), the most widely used brick firing technology in South Asia. This is one of the most contaminating techniques for brick production, resulting in a host of social and environmental impacts including air pollution, climate change, cardio-respiratory diseases, land use impacts and deforestation.
The different kiln type and fuels burned, make it difficult to accurately identify the make-up of air polluntants emitted by the sector, but they likely include sulfur oxides, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide (CO2), forms of particulate matter (PM) including black carbon, and additional compounds released by burning coal and other fuels.
Anyone who has ever seen a traditional brick kiln operating will have likely noticed billowing black smoke spewing from its chimney. Smoke that is breathed in by workers and nearby communities.
Brick kilns are recognized as one of the largest stationary sources of black carbon, and along with iron and steel production contributes 20% of total world-wide black carbon emissions. Black carbon (a major component of soot) is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuel and biomass. It has a warming impact on climate 460 to 1500 times stronger than CO2. Its lifetime in the atmosphere varies from a few days to a few weeks.