Tehran’s air pollution mitigation needs $4 billion

December 4, 2019

TEHRAN – The Municipality of Tehran has prepared a comprehensive plan to mitigate air pollution in the metropolis, based on which a total budget of 174 trillion rials (nearly $4 billion) is required over the course of four years.

The plan, proposed by the municipality’s transportation and traffic organization, focuses on reducing particulate matter and the concentration of PM 2.5, so it reduces primary PM sources and secondary precursors like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday.

It has envisaged that primary PM sources will be reduced by 55 percent and secondary precursors by 45 percent. In this line, $1 billion should be financed in the first year.

The plan claims that the main reasons behind air pollution intensification in the capital is lack of clean and cheap public transport, overcrowding the transport fleet, poor quality vehicles, extremely old public transportation fleet and violation. 

However, controlling and removing air pollution sources, fining the industrial units for emission generation, and development of public transportation and the human-centered infrastructure are the main policies of the plan.

According to the plan, all vehicles, regardless of their type, contribute to production of particulate matter by 70 percent, and heating devices produce 2 percent of pollution, while power plants, refineries and industries are responsible for air pollution by 27 percent. 

And in the category of vehicle emissions, trucks with 23 percent, public transport buses 12 percent, other buses 18 percent, motorcycles 10 percent, minibuses 4 percent, contribute to the production of particulate matter.

The plan suggests to renovate 8,200 buses in the public transport fleet and 4,800 buses in the private sector.

In another part of the plan, the importance of diesel particulate filter installation is emphasized and it is estimated that the average price of each filter is around $23,000, full implementation of which costs $47.5 million that reduces 3 percent of the PM emissions.

The program further emphasizes on considerable share of trucks in air pollution, which can be mitigated by retrofitting or installing filters, while it requires a budget of 62 trillion rials (about $1.5 billion).

The plan also refers to diesel engine motorcycles as a source of pollution due to emitting 10 percent primary PM and 18 percent secondary PM, so 800,000 of these motorcycles should be replaced with electric ones, which needs 36 trillion rials (about $850 million).

The proposed plan emphasizes to scrape 3 million clunker cars and replace them with new ones which will cost 42 trillion rials (about $1 billion), and 30,000 taxi catalysts have to be replaced, which can reduce gas emissions by 2.5 percent.

Air pollution kills 5,000 Tehrani citizens annually

Some 4,000 to 5,000 Tehrani citizens die each year from direct exposure to PM emissions, and air pollution brings Iran a loss of over $2.6 billion per year, or about $ 2,000.

Polluted air haunted the capital for 49 days

Tehran air quality index (AQI) reached an unhealthy level of pollution for 49 days since the beginning of this year (March 21), according to a report published by the Tehran Air Quality Control Company.

An AQI is used to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become.

The index categorizes conditions according to a measure of polluting matters into excellent (0-50), good (51-100), lightly polluted or unhealthy for sensitive groups (101-150), moderately polluted (151-200), heavily polluted (201-300) and severely polluted (301-500).

During the aforementioned period, 47 days got lightly polluted, while air quality reached unhealthy levels for 2 days which was almost dangerous for all the residents.

This is while, over the same period last year, Tehraners did not breathe a single day of heavily polluted air.

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