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Since the turn of the 20th century, human-made air pollution has grown to be the biggest problem because it causes 90% of deaths globally and accounts for 9% of all deaths. Climate change, global warming, and ozone depletion are further factors that contribute to air pollution, which is having a negative impact on all facets of life on earth. The capital of Afghanistan which is Kabul, is not for the faint of heart in the winter; temperatures below zero are not unusual, and snowfalls are frequent and occasionally heavy [1]. The six million people who live in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, are fighting an additional silent but lethal killer: air pollution. A Kabul city resident who has lived there for a long time claimed that the air used to be pleasant and less polluted. The population was less, due to which it used rain more. People were eager to grow trees in their residential compounds and in communal areas before the ongoing battles in Afghanistan. They were also eager to work together to tidy various spaces. Afghanistan refers to this as Hashar [2].

However, the long-running conflict in Afghanistan has harmed the ecology. The Afghan government has historically struggled to address environmental degradation because of issues including instability, corruption, and a fragile economy [3]. Environmental protection has never been a high concern in Afghanistan and serious environmental issues like air pollution are still poorly recognised by the populace and the government, which has significantly impacted the air quality and started to cause serious health problems.

Environmental Issues In Kabul

Like every large metropolis, Kabul has a number of air pollution sources. The city becomes engulfed in a hazardous haze of particulate matter for several weeks in a succession, most frequently during the chilly winter months. These tiny, frequently undetectable dust and soot particles cover the metropolis. Under normal conditions, warm air near the ground slowly rises, dispersing pollutants along the way. Pollution, however, builds up at ground level when cold air lingers near the surface, as in a thermal inversion. Older vehicles, poor fuel quality, people burning trash, commercial brick kilns and many more causes air pollution [4]. In addition, several bakeries, restaurants, power plants, residential cooking stoves and heaters contribute to the depletion of air quality. Although Kabul itself does not have a significant amount of industry, haze and high levels of airborne particles are typical occurrences. Coal, which produces air pollution and acid rain, is the conventional fuel for the few remaining businesses. However, additional research on the impacts of acid rain is needed because some regions have naturally acidic soil and bare rock surfaces.
Cross-border pollution appears to be a bigger issue right now because so many of the neighbouring nations' enterprises create airborne pollutants at subpar levels. At the moment, Afghanistan's western and north western regions are subjected to massive pollution loads coming from the Aral sedimentary basin [5]. A few industrial parks can be found close to Afghanistan's borders in Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The majority of the nation's landscape has been degraded by the deployment of powerful military equipment and weapons. Most recently, Pakistan's nuclear testing in Afghanistan's border regions have brought about yet another uncounted ecological issue that will need further research.

Environmental Effects

Acid Rain

Acid rain is defined as precipitation with potentially harmful concentrations of nitric and sulfuric acids. When fossil fuels are burnt, the atmosphere is primarily affected by nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides, which play a major role in the creation of these acids [6]. These acids either fall to the Earth as dry precipitation or wet precipitation (rain, snow, or fog) (gas and particulates). Acidification of soils and water bodies is facilitated by acid rain, which damages trees and renders water unsuitable for some fish and other species. Furthermore, it speeds up the degradation of buildings, monuments, and pieces of art that are a part of our country's legacy [7].


When lakes and certain estuaries get older, eutrophication occurs naturally. However, human activities can dramatically hasten the process by speeding the rate at which nutrients enter aquatic ecosystems [8]. Algal blooms can result from high levels of nutrients (such nitrogen), which can cause fish deaths and a reduction in the variety of aquatic plants and animals. Nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants, vehicles, trucks, and other sources have an impact on the quantity of nitrogen that reaches aquatic habitats.


When sunlight strikes minute airborne pollutants, haze is the effect. Some of the pollutants that cause haze are released directly in the environment by power plants, industrial facilities and construction activities [9]. Others are created when some gases released into the air interact with nearby particles to create new ones.

Effects On Wildlife

Wildlife may be negatively impacted by toxic pollutants in the air, soil, or in water. Animals can also have health problems similar to people if they are exposed to air toxics in high enough quantities over an extended period of time. Research demonstrates that air toxics play a role in animal sickness, infertility, and birth abnormalities [10]. In aquatic environments, persistent hazardous air pollutants are of special concern.

Impact Of Environmental Degradation

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Global Climate Change, the average temperature across the globe has risen by 1.0 °C and is now rising by 0.2 °C every decade since the pre-industrial era (1850–1900). Afghanistan is a country with an unstable political environment, which makes it very vulnerable. Additionally, the fall in country’s economy limit its capability to adequately avoid and combat the consequences of climate change [11]. A few significant effects of climate change include rising temperatures, modifications in the monsoon, severe droughts and many more.
Extreme weather events and natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe as a result of climate change. Afghanistan has endured numerous droughts during the past 20 years and will likely undergo another in 2022 [12]. According to the Afghanistan Drought Risk Management Strategy, there will be drought in nearly 90% of the nation by 2050. The groundwater table in Kabul city fell by 12 metres in 2021 as a result of an exceptional decline in snow depth as of March 1st, 2021 [13]. Crop failure and water limitations caused by a lack of water are factors in food insecurity.
Afghanistan has taken action in recent years to deal with changing climate by constructing greenhouses for female farmers, systems which gives early warning regarding natural catastrophe notifications, water infrastructure in remote places, and by sponsoring initiatives for growing premium eco-friendly commodities like saffron [14]. An action plan strategy for climate change were created in addition to spreading awareness about it.
Grants of $20 million were awarded for the expansion of renewable energy by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Additionally, at the COP26 United Nations Atmosphere Change Conference 2021, national climate targets were to be announced, however, Afghanistan was not represented at COP26 because of the disturbing political climate surrounding the Taliban takeover [15]. Additionally, because of food instability, water shortages, and widespread relocation, disagreements, violence, human rights violations, and child marriages have become a dangerously prevalent occurrence this year, reflecting and accelerating climate change.

Impact On Humans

Exposure to excessive air pollution can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in human cells, which serves as a precursor to chronic illnesses and cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) designated air pollution as a human carcinogen in 2013. The study of analysing the process of how air pollution affects human health is always growing. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, obesity, and problems of the nervous, endocrine, and immunological systems are now all major public health concerns [16].


1. A significant study involving more than 57,000 women discovered that people who live close to busy roads may make women more susceptible to breast cancer [1].
2. Other airborne hazardous chemicals, including methylene chloride, which is used in aerosol goods and paint removers, were discovered by the National Institute of

Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Sister Study Can Cause Breast Cancer.

Lung cancer incidence was found to be associated with growing reliance on coal for energy generation in a long-term study, 2000–2016.

Cardiovascular Disease

1. High-density lipoprotein, also known as good cholesterol, can be decreased in some elderly Americans who are exposed to TRAP, raising the chance of heart disease.
2. A National Toxicology Program (NTP) report claims that exposure to TRAP can also raise the risk of hypertensive disorders for a pregnant woman which are a major contributor to preterm birth, low birth weight, and mother and infant mortality [17].

Respiratory Disease

1. Emphysema, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses, can be caused by air pollution, which can also impact on the growth of lungs (COPD).
2. A significant public health issue in 2020 was the co-occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires in the west part of The United States [18]. A study revealed a correlation between wildfire smoke and COVID-19 cases and deaths, which proves the already well-known relation between air pollution and respiratory illnesses.

Current Mitigation Programs

On the legislative front, the Government created an environmental law with highly specific clauses on air pollution with the technical aid of UNEP. According to NEPA, as a result of the legislation and other initiatives, the usage of wood and coal has significantly dropped [19]. One noteworthy development is that the majority of bakeries in Kabul have moved from using wood to using natural gas for their ovens. A commission of high-level government now meets once a month to deal with environmental issues and provide directions, according to Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, the deputy director general of NEPA. He notes that 30% of cars in Afghan cities have already shifted from petrol to LPG, and that liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is swiftly becoming a successful substitute for petrol and diesel.

Along with these and other initiatives, towns all over Afghanistan have created short- and long-term plans to pave dirt roads with concrete and asphalt, a process that is anticipated to cut air pollution by 15%. Additionally, according to Mr. Malikyar, the work to "we are working to increase the supply of energy in the cities is in process which will significantly reduce the use of solid fuel which will further lead to better air quality [20]." Beyond these initiatives, analysts point out that the government must design improved public transportation and stimulate private sector investment, particularly at the municipal level. A very effective public transportation system is unquestionably a part of the solution, according to Mr. Scanlon. "There is profit to be earned by the private sector in public transport," he claims. Investors in businesses will take a chance if there is money to be made from going green.

Future Plans And Solutions

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) 

With the help of a catalyst, SCR transforms nitrogen oxides into diatomic nitrogen and water. A reductant which is usually a anhydrous ammonia, aqueous ammonia, or a urea solution mixed with a stream of exhaust gas, which is then reacted on a catalyst. Nitrogen and carbon dioxide are created as the reaction progresses toward completion [21] in the case of the application of urea. Early 1960s SCR technology research focused on less expensive and more long-lasting catalyst agents as it was developed in Japan and the US. Commercial selective catalytic reduction systems have been demonstrated to reduce nitrogen oxides by 70-95 percent and are commonly found on big utility boilers, industrial boilers, and municipal solid waste boilers. In order to comply with Tier 4 Final and EURO 6 diesel emissions criteria for big trucks as well as for light cars, SCR systems are preferred [22]. As a result, as compared to pre-emissions engines, emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulates, and hydrocarbons have been reduced by as much as 95%.

Green Infrastructure

A network of strategically planned having both natural and semi-natural areas with additional environmental elements is known as "green infrastructure." These areas are designed to provide a variety of ecosystem services, including purification of water, improving air quality and climate mitigation. The environmental circumstances and, consequently, the health and standard of living of citizens can be improved by this network [23]. Planning for green infrastructure has been proven to be a useful method for achieving social, economic, and environmental goals. In many instances, it can lessen reliance on "grey" infrastructure, which can be more difficult to create and maintain, more expensive to build, and potentially harmful to the environment and biodiversity.

Over time, Kabul's air quality has drastically worsened and resulted in numerous fatal respiratory illnesses. Due to overcrowding, smoky cars, and a lack of clean energy, PM2.5 and PM10 pollution levels during the fall and winter are significantly higher than the WHO-recommended limit, which is thought to be the main cause of most asthma cases [24]. It has always been difficult for Afghan governments to provide sustainable energy for heating and cooking, which has forced the public to use energy sources like plastic, coal and wood as the government is unable to provide a source of reliable energy. Using energy sources which includes plastic or coal or wood are dangerous to both human health as well as the environment. The disastrous pollution situation in Kabul should be improved by taking important pollution control measures.

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