- Demand for bricks is increasing in many parts of Asia.
- Fluoride emissions from brick kilns may pose a threat to peri-urban agriculture.
- We found extensive injury to fruit orchards close to brick kilns in Peshawar.
- Local farmers suffered large economic losses but did not identify brick kilns as a cause of this.
- The extent of crop damage from brick kilns with poor emission control in the region may not be fully recognised.
The rapid urbanisation of many cities in south and south-east Asia has increased the demand for bricks, which are typically supplied from brick kilns in peri-urban areas. We report visible foliar damage to mango, apricot and plum trees in the vicinity of traditional Bull’s Trench brick kilns in Peshawar, Pakistan. Visible injury symptoms, hydrogen fluoride concentrations in air, and foliar fluoride concentrations were all greater in the vicinity of brick kilns than at more distant sites, indicating that fluoride emissions from brick kilns were the main cause of damage. Interviews with local farmers established the significant impact of this damage on their livelihoods. Since poorly regulated brick kilns are often found close to important peri-urban agricultural areas, we suggest that this may be a growing but unrecognised environmental problem in regions of Asia where emission control in brick kilns has not been improved.
*Original abstract online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749111006348?via%3Dihub