Band-aid approach can’t solve Tehran’s air pollution problem

December 4, 2010 - 0:0

Heavy air pollution has gripped Tehran over the past few days, forcing officials to take emergency measures like closing schools, universities, and government offices and imposing special traffic restrictions, but the choking smog has not dissipated.

The situation has made Tehran residents miserable and has led to a rise in the number of respiratory attacks.
On Friday, municipal officials announced that air pollution had reached an alarming level and decided to order another holiday for elementary schools and daycare centers on Saturday.
Experts have also warned that if the issue is not resolved, Tehran could find itself on the verge of a serious environmental crisis.
Air pollution is not a new phenomenon in Tehran. In fact, it has become a chronic problem over the past few years.
But officials do not address the issue until it reaches a critical point, and even then only take a few emergency measures to temporarily alleviate the problem.
However, this time the problem is much deeper, and desperate officials are searching to find some stopgap measure to deal with the issue.
And while officials dither, far too many irresponsible citizens nonchalantly violate traffic restrictions and continue to cruise the streets in their gas-guzzling cars.
Heavy air pollution on some days in autumn and winter, due to inversion and the geographical location of Tehran, which is surrounded by mountains, is not a new phenomenon, but officials don’t take serious action until an environmental crisis occurs.
The air pollution issue cannot be resolved overnight through temporary measures.
Tackling such a serious issue requires long-term planning, comprehensive scientific studies, the utilization of exerts’ views, sufficient funding, and, most importantly of all, the resolve of the government and citizens.
Many measures can be taken to reduce air pollution, such as imposing regulations requiring domestic carmakers to manufacture environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient cars, fitting catalytic convertors to all vehicles, improving the public transport system, making efforts to contain the population explosion in Tehran, decentralizing government organizations, establishing major universities and medical centers in various cities and towns, improving the quality of gasoline that is produced by domestic refineries, and using the experiences of other countries that have managed to reduce air pollution in their metropolises.
But the government and citizens must have the foresight and resolve to make major decisions and to implement appropriate and effective measures to solve this longstanding problem, which every now and then disrupts life in the capital.