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2022 Aug 10

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int

Assessment and mapping of total suspended particulate and soil quality around brick kilns and occupational health issues among brick kilns workers in Pakistan.


Brick kilns constitute one of the major sources of environmental degradation in Pakistan. The present study was conducted to determine the soil quality and total suspended particulates (TSPs) around the brick kilns and assess the health effects on brick kiln workers. Four brick kilns were selected, two each at Sheikhupura and Pattoki city. The soil quality was assessed by analyzing pH, electrical conductivity, moisture content, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium content, and heavy metal concentration while TSPs were measured by hand-held Microdust Pro Real time monitor. Average TSP concentration around brick kilns at Sheikhupura and Pattoki ranged between 1100 and 1200 µg/m and between 550 and 600 µg/m respectively which exceeded the Punjab Ambient Air Standards. The soil was slightly acidic (Sheikhupura: average pH = 6.41; Pattoki: average pH = 6.6) while all other analyzed parameters, except heavy metals, were lower than the required FAO Standards for good quality agriculture soil. Heavy metal accumulation in soil samples followed the general order zinc (Zn) > chromium (Cr) > nickel (Ni) > manganese (Mn) > cadmium (Cd) > copper (Cu). For assessment of occupational health and safety issues, all 440 brick kiln workers from the study areas were interviewed. Mostly, brick kiln workers suffered from chronic back pain (84%), skin issues (80.5%), dry cough (72.9%), common cold (46.1%), and shortness of breath (17.1%). The vulnerability risk varied with the nature of the work as workers engaged in brick baking were more vulnerable to respiratory issues than were those in molding task. The study concludes that brick kilns are a source of increased TSP, deteriorated surrounding soil quality, and impaired worker health. It is necessary to regulate these activities and implement requisite health and safety measures.