How Afghan officials are tackling Kabul's 'hazardous' pollution

Authorities launch crackdown on local businesses thought to be the main contributors to air pollution in capital city.

    Afghan capital Kabul is ranked as one of the most-polluted cities in the world [Rahmat Gul/AP]
    Afghan capital Kabul is ranked as one of the most-polluted cities in the world [Rahmat Gul/AP]

    Afghan officials have begun cracking down on local businesses thought to be the main contributors to air pollution in the capital to battle a crisis that has reached "hazardous" levels.

    The owners of wedding halls, public baths, and property management offices were also warned to stop burning scrap tyres and plastics - commonly done to provide heating in places of business, Leila Samani, a spokeswoman for Afghanistan's National Environmental Protection Agency told the dpa news agency on Monday.

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    She also called on residents to reduce the use of coal - used to warm homes - and repair their old cars.

    Three wedding halls and two property management offices were shut down as a senior delegation from the police, municipality and environmental agency started operating on Sunday evening.

    Another 28 businesses have been identified for closure this week, according to Samani.

    Many residents cite poverty and lack of electricity as the primary cause of pollution, which will be impossible to solve without cheaper gas and electricity.

    Kabul is ranked as one of the worst-polluted cities in the world.

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    Seasonal air pollution is a major cause of disease in Kabul, and environmental activists have launched a campaign in which they distribute face masks.

    Many people, especially children, suffer from respiratory infections caused by breathing polluted air.

    "Kabul air is not breathable," tweeted Shaharzad Akbar, the chairperson of Afghanistan's Human Rights Commission.

    "I feel constantly exhausted and low in energy, my son coughs at night and we don't dare to go out for a walk."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies