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The Brick Industry's Impact on the Environment

Brick kilns are recognised as one of the largest stationary sources of black carbon which along with iron and steel production, contribute 20% of total black carbon emissions.– CCAC

There is a real urgency to curb the on-going harmful effects on the environment of an estimated 500,000 antiquated, highly polluting brick kilns which operate globally.

They are major contributors to climate change and a significant source of COemissions, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and short-lived climate pollutants (SCLP’s).

Brick kilns damage air quality and human health and in toxic pollutants seriously affect the lives of billions.

During the dry season, when kilns are operational in Bangladesh they contribute 30% -50% of the < 2.5 micron Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) in the air. The small particles which are products of incomplete combustion, are absorbed deep in the lungs and lead to cardiovascular and respiratory disease and deaths. Kilns contribute significantly to the very high ambient air quality readings of PM 2.5 measured in Dhaka, Delhi and Kathmandu.

Numerous plumes of toxic black smoke (black carbon) billow from brick kilns in developing countries and are a common sight. The contaminating emissions which result cause:

  • Hazardous working conditions.
  • High rates of respiratory disease and premature death amongst workers and local communities
  • Agricultural impacts – damaging soil, crop production and food security. Rice and wheat crops being particularly susceptible.
  • Transboundary black carbon from thousands of kilns directly contributes to glacial melting in the Himalayas and affects monsoonal rainfall patterns.
  • Damage to biodiversity.

HZZK can provide measurable environmental, economic, social and health solutions to an industry seeking technology and workplace answers to its highly damaging Black Carbon and CO2 emissions.

Environmental impact of outdated brick kilns

The brick industry has a devastating environmental impact:

  • Kilns release over 1,072 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions into the  atmosphere every year which is 2.7% of total emissions.
  • Globally brick kilns burn 375,000,000 tonnes of coal per year.
  • Scavenged, highly polluting fuels are also used these include tyres, wood, waste oil, cow dung, paper, liquid tar (mazoot) and battery casings.
  • Many kiln operations use the cover of darkness to burn scavenged fuels.