Skip to content Skip to navigation

Brick Kiln Solutions: Measuring health outcomes

kiln chimneys

Measuring health outcomes

Filling a gap

Coal-fired brick kilns have proliferated rapidly in Bangladesh, and across South Asia, generating substantial air pollution. The adverse health impacts of exposure to air pollution have been widely documented, however there is minimal evidence from high-pollution contexts such as Bangladesh, in particular for outcomes beyond mortality. Moreover, the specific contribution of brick kilns to health outcomes has not been quantified.

We are filling this gap by conducting a longitudinal study in one subdistrict of Bangladesh with our partners icddr,b and the Child Health Research Foundation, to estimate the impact of exposure to air pollution from brick kilns on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension, blood oxygen levels and blood carbon monoxide levels. We take advantage of the seasonal variation in brick production to collect data on the same individuals at two points in time: the brick kiln season (November - March) and the off season (May - September). Households vary in their proximity / exposure to brick kilns, which allows us to use a difference-in-differences econometric approach to estimate the effect of increased exposure to brick kilns on health outcomes. We are collecting a wide range of demographic and health history information that allows us to control for many of the other confounders that affect these outcomes.

We have completed fieldwork for the first round of data collection during the brick kiln season and data collection for the off season is currently underway. Ultimately, given the lack of information health consequences that can be attributed to brick kilns, these results will useful for advocating for change.