Dust pollution shuts down major cities in Iran

An image from Twitter with the descriptive hashtag #KhouzestanCantBreathe shows the air thick with dust in Sahab City, Khouzestan, Feb. 8, 2015. (photo by Twitter/@NeGoooliaM)

An image from Twitter with the descriptive hashtag #KhouzestanCantBreathe shows the air thick with dust in Sahab City, Khouzestan, Feb. 8, 2015. (photo by Twitter/@NeGoooliaM)

Eleven cities in Iran’s southwest Khouzestan province have shut down offices and schools over excessive dust particles in the air. Iranians tweeted pictures of buildings and streets covered with dust with the hashtag #Khouzestancantbreath while officials and politicians used the opportunity to take a shot at the administration for its lack of a comprehensive plan to address the crisis.

The Khouzestan Province Crisis Center asked the offices in the capital Ahvaz and major cities such as Abadan and Khoramshahr to close and for pregnant women and those suffering from respiratory problems to stay in doors.

Environmental officials for Khouzestan said that in some cities, the dust content per cubic meter was 66 times permissible levels.

Officials have given various reasons for the dust storms that have plagued parts of Khouzestan in the past week, such as the decrease in rain in the province, the drying of the wetlands and the failure in neighboring countries such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia to cover soil with mulch.

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