Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Environmental Pollution Silent Killer of Citizens

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Environmental Pollution Silent Killer of Citizens

Kabul is the most polluted capitals in the world which forms greater threat to life of citizens than the terrorist does! In other words, we do not have only terrorism as an enemy; we also have a clandestine silent enemy that takes life of thousands of men, women and mostly children and health vulnerable. Kabul has turned into a centre of old vehicles and the use of substandard fuel and it is surrounded by dry mountains and the Kabul River that passes from full of polluted water. Lack of greenery and public parks has fuelled the health crisis issue. Culture of living in city as common home or the public awareness in regards to help the environment become clean is at its lowest. Waste is thrown everywhere and bothering voice is raised every time. In short, the capital in itself resembles a speaking dustbin. Unfortunately, the government has not been able to turn Kabul look like a real capital.
Over 70 percent of diseases in Kabul are linked to air pollution, unclean water and solid waste. Severe air pollution causes respiratory disorders, eye and nasal problems, and is one of the major causes of lung cancer, public health experts say. Over the past few years diagnosed cases of cancer, mainly among children, have increased considerably.
A short stroll in Kabul during the daytime leads to clear evidence – when one blows one’s nose on a handkerchief - of the polluted atmosphere.
According to health experts, the air pollution can exacerbate a number of serious diseases among inhabitants of an air polluted city. These diseases include ischemic heart diseases, stroke, hypertension, and a number of respiratory diseases and birth defects. Those who are at highest risk of being affected by air pollution are children, the elderly and patients who already have diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease. Air pollution can also affect fetus in the mother’s womb. A study in United States of America showed that air pollution due to carbon mono-oxide can increase birth defects. Knowing the high concentration of carbon mono oxide in Kabul, it is of great concern to us that birth defects may increase in Kabul. We need to wake up for the sake of giving a better health for our coming generations.
The basic reason for the air pollution in Kabul is the enormous amounts of smoke produced by badly maintained vehicles and factories located in the densely populated areas of the Kabul city. Improper traffic system and its inadequate and unprofessional personnel are adding fuel to the fire. There are no any appropriate engine fitness inspections or restriction for vehicles producing the cloud-like smokes. On the other hand, the streets in Kabul represent the dirtiest streets of the world. The vehicles running on the shabby, rough and tough roads blow dust particles, waste materials and garbage which make breathing almost impossible. These roads and streets are the main sources of various kinds of deadly germs causing fatal diseases each day to hundreds of people including children and other volatile groups.
Almost every day you see that traffic goes crazy in Kabul. That is due to huge number of vehicles and lack of a proper public transport system. Every month more than 8,000 new vehicles registered with the Kabul traffic department add to Kabul’s about one million vehicles. Many of these vehicles are over 15 years old while some are running since 80s. The problem in Kabul is compounded by the widespread use of substandard car fuel and old engines.
Due to Lack of electricity and natural gas many households use wood, coal and some ignite junk storage due to lack of transport services by municipal. In addition, some brick factories, public baths and small businesses burn the old vehicle tyres, plastic and combustible waste to run their businesses more cheaply. Toxic pollutants, sulfur oxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide are emitted. Poor waste management – both solid and otherwise - is yet another major problem in Kabul which also damages the air quality. Unlike some other capital cities, Kabul has the added problem of its arid and mountainous landscape and lack of nearby woodlands. Due to cost and pretty much little other alternatives, Afghans are forced to burn wood in order to keep warm in winter seasons and to cook their food. This, along with the fact that a large number of vehicles (many old and poorly maintained) in Afghanistan run on poor quality fuels, air pollution has become a problem in Afghanistan's major urban areas - like in the city of Kabul where it is clearly visible. In fact, a recent study revealed that 60% of Kabul's residents are exposed to increased levels of harmful toxins such as nitrous oxides, and sulfur dioxide.

The fight against pollution in Kabul city as much important as to fight against terrorist!  The government has to stop sleeping like a log and act fast and execute a series of projects such as the rehabilitation of forests and promotion of greenery, ban the import and use of substandard fuel, improve waste management and at the same time build and strengthen our own institutional capacity. It is about the government and the people took steps in order to clean their environment, breath in a cleaner air and remain safe from various kinds of fatal diseases.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@ gmail.com

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