Originally posted at The Third Pole by Mohammad Zubair Khan on 12 January 2017, this article highlights the social costs of the stone-crushing industry for the mountain communities of Pakistan.

Often overlooked, the massive amount of air pollution created by stone crushing machines is a major health hazard for mountain communities from where the stone is mined.

“In every home you will find an asthma patient”

Much of the focus on air pollution in South Asia is on vehicular pollution, and smoke — whether from burning agricultural fields to clear them, or from traffic. While this is an important aspect of air pollution, particularly as burnt particles produce a high level of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) in width, which can enter the bloodstream and lungs, another source of such pollution — stone crushing and the creation of fine dust particles, often also PM 2.5, is ignored.

Zafar Iqbal, and environmental lawyer and activist, said that “stone crushing machines are found in our most beautiful valleys, disturbing the landscape’s natural geographical formations and archaeological features. The clean environment has been replaced by the pungent smell of industry and the noise of vehicles and machines.”

Read the complete article “An asthma patient in every house” at The Third Pole.

By Mohammad Zubair Khan, an Islamabad based environmental journalist. He tweets as @HazaraZubair.