Air pollution will remain at dangerous levels and will increase for the next few days in most big cities, including Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, and Mashhad, according to Iran Meteorological Organization. For this reason, schools have been closed for about two weeks and education is held online. Large parts of Iran are struggling with air pollution, gas shortages, and freezing weather.
But at the same time, the regime exports gas and gas condensates and uses mazut to supply the fuel needed by power plants, industries, and refineries to keep its source of income.
Recently, Ebrahim Raisi’s government decided to raise the air pollution standards and index to avoid closing schools.
In an interview with the ISNA news agency on January 23, Minister of Education Yousef Nouri said, “If you look at the global indices of air quality, in other countries they don’t close schools if the index is less than 300. But for us, they set the index to close schools at 150. The closure was like the Covid-19 period, while our pollution indices are below 200. We are going to propose to suspend these indicators in the next government board meeting.”
Last year, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that important programs regarding air pollution would be implemented by the end of the year.
“Today, important plans regarding the reduction of air pollution were approved, and we are trying to design and implement parts of these plans by the end of 2022,” Vahidi said in November 2021, according to Fars News Agency. “Vehicles account for 60 percent of pollution in big cities. In this regard, it is necessary to put the production of electric vehicles on the agenda with the cooperation of the president’s office for Science and Technology.”
But today, the air situation in Iran’s big cities is much worse than last year.
“With the help of the environmental organization, we determined a new proposal for the government to slightly change the standards so that it is not necessary to close our schools,” Vahidi claimed.
But the Ministry of Health does not agree. In an interview with the Armanmeli website on January 25, Abbas Shahsavani, head of the air health and climate change department of the Ministry of Health said, ” Some days in Tehran, the concentration of suspended PM2.5 particles is more than 10 times the World Health Organization guidelines, which means that the concentration of particulate matter is so high that it is dangerous for the health of people and especially sensitive groups. It is not right to eliminate the problem by simply changing the air pollution index.”
“Directives and orders cannot change air pollution indicators. Respiratory infection is the most common cause of death in children. The annual standard of particles in the country is six times more than the guidelines of the World Health Organization and this means that people’s exposure to air pollution is high. So, instead of changing indicators, we should focus on reducing pollutants and controlling emission sources,” Shahsavani added.
A recent study by the Air Pollution Research Center of Tehran University of Medical Sciences indicates that about 40,000 people in the country die every year due to exposure to a concentration of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in the air. This is equivalent to 10 percent of all deaths.
“But the risk of this disease is higher in children than in other age groups. Some other diseases, including leukemia (blood cancer), are one of the most common cancers in children. Studies show a significant correlation between exposure to traffic pollutants and the risk of leukemia in children. Also, air pollution affects the residents of many Iranian cities in the form of cardiovascular, respiratory, and stroke diseases,” Shahsavani continued.
Is there any plan to deal with air pollution? Obviously, no.
Behzad Ashjaee, the former deputy of the Environmental Organization, told ISNA news agency on January 25, 2022, “There is no special attention to the issue of air pollution in the 2022 budget bill.”
Iran ranks sixth in the world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Schools and offices in the capital and some other cities were closed many times during the past weeks due to severe air pollution, and there is no prospect of improving the situation.