Choking smoke envelopes Ahwaz; pollution far beyond hazardous

November 21, 2017

TEHRAN — The southwestern city of Ahwaz, Khuzestan province, is once again wreathed in a haze of smoke, ISNA reported on Tuesday.

Data analyses in the area have shown high fine dust concentration climbing to 66 times above the recommended limits, Khuzestan provincial department of environment said. 

While the normal level of pollution should not exceed 150 micrograms per cubic meter it increased to 9,991 micrograms per cubic meter at 2 p.m. local time in Ahwaz.

Following the suffocating air pollution offices and schools were shut down in the city. 

Khuzestan Meteorological Organization has announced that the pollution is originating from hotspots located inside the country, Mehr news agency reported. 

Recurrent periods of suffocating dust storms, lately accompanied by crippling power and water supply cuts, provoked public protests in the city of Ahwaz in February.

Sand and dust storms mostly originated from hotspots in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia are adversely affecting Iranian cities in western and southwestern areas and causing great discomfort for the poor dwellers.

Many ponds which were once located in the arid and desert regions stretching from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to Iran have gone dry over the years. This ongoing desertification process has greatly increased the number of dust storms in the region and every year heavy dust storms envelope more than half of the country.

Outdoor air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting everyone in developed and developing countries alike.

WHO estimates that in 2012, some 72% of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischemic heart disease and strokes, while 14% of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or acute lower respiratory infections, and 14% of deaths were due to lung cancer.

PM affects more people than any other pollutant. The major components of PM are sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water. It consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air. The most health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less, (PM10), which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs.

MQ/MG

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