Benzene 3.5 times above safe levels in Tehran: official

September 28, 2018 - 21:43

TEHRAN — Benzene, which is found in petroleum products and is a well-established cause of cancer in humans, is 3.5 times above safe levels in Tehran, an official with Tehran Air Quality Control Company has said.

Benzene is highly volatile, and exposure occurs mostly through inhalation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified benzene as carcinogenic to humans.

Based on the latest surveys, benzene is 3.5 times above safe levels in more than 170 areas in the city, Mehr news agency quoted Farshid Babakhani as saying on Thursday.

According to World Health Organization, no specific guideline value has been developed for airborne benzene. Benzene is carcinogenic to humans, and no safe level of exposure can be recommended. For general guidance, the concentrations of airborne benzene associated with an excess lifetime risk of leukaemia of 1/10,000, 1/100,000 and 1/1,000,000 are 17, 1.7 and 0.17 microgram per cubic meter, respectively.

Unfortunately with the beginning of the school year in Iran (September 23) air pollution will worsen in the metropolis of Tehran. Heavy, slow-moving traffic builds up in the street of Tehran, especially in early mornings when parents are trying to take their children to school and many want to go to work or university.

On September 23, Mohsen Pourseyyed Aqaei, deputy mayor of Tehran for traffic and transport affairs, said that car use surges in the second half of the year by 40 percent in the capital. 

In order to address the issue and curb traffic congestion as well as air pollution, governmental organizations give their employees the opportunity of a flexible working hour arrangement, so that instead of starting work at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. employees can attend work at 9 a.m. for the next two weeks, Pourseyyed Aqaei explained.

Meanwhile, Vahid Hosseini, head of the national working group for reducing air pollution, said on Thursday that the working group has proposed to implement the scheme of flexible working hour arrangement for the employees over the second half of the year. In case the cabinet approve the proposal it will decrease air pollution to some extent. 


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