With the onset of winter, the vast majority of people in Afghanistan have turned to burning coal and wood to heat their homes – a move that seriously impacts the quality of air.
In densely populated Kabul, this is of serious concern to environmentalists who say air pollution is worrying in the capital.
Afghanistan’s Environment Watch and other environmentalists warn that unless government does something to improve air quality, people’s lives will be in danger.
“Unfortunately mechanisms and systems which are used in heating are not standard and the government does not have processes in place to lower air pollution in winter,” said Najat Malik Yar a member of Afghanistan’s Environment Watch.
Investigations show that high levels of toxic particles – up to 1000 mg per cubic meter – have been recorded in Kabul. Anything over 300 mg per cubic meter is considered harmful to people’s health, said experts.
Environmentalists warn that with a toxic reading of these levels, other countries would declare an emergency.
“While the environmental protection department is directly responsible for the health and safety of citizens, to date, the president has still not appointed a head,” said Dr Ibrahim Jafari a member of the monitoring of natural resources and environment network.
Heating appliance sellers in the country have meanwhile said that buyers are specifically purchasing coal burners, as they are cheaper to run.
“The heaters we import use electricity, fuel, wood or coal but more people are buying coal and wood burners because they are more economical,” said one merchant.