Director of Tehran’s Department of Environment has dismissed claims by a senior city councilor about the death toll emanating from air pollution in the polluted capital as “uninformed.”
Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh said claims made last week by Mehdi Chamran, head of the Tehran City Council, about the staggering death toll in Tehran was incorrect, Mehr News Agency reported.
In an interview with Fars News Agency last weekend, Chamran claimed that “between 150 and 180 people” die every day in Tehran due to air pollution, before criticizing a decision made by the DOE’s committee to combat air pollution to shut cement factories and asphalt plants around Tehran for a week.
The decision was made on the Saturday of last week after the capital’s air quality failed to improve after a week and the air quality index remained above 150 for two consecutive days.
Schools were closed for three days.
“Chamran’s uninformed statement is probably due to the fact that not a single member of the [city] council attends the air pollution committee’s meetings,” Heydarzadeh said, adding that the committee has often asked the city council to send a representative to the meetings.
According to statistics published in 2012, approximately 4,400 people die prematurely in Tehran due to air pollution every year. This is while the figures quoted by Chamran would mean that at the least 54,750 Tehranis die every year because of poor air quality.
The World Health Organization says 80,000 pollution-caused deaths happen in Iran every year.
The DOE official said the committee’s decision to shut cement and asphalt factories helped control Tehran’s air pollution, as air quality sensors showed a decline in particulate matter concentrations during last week that ended on Friday.
“Tackling environmental problems transcends politics … it is not right to use (abuse) environmental degradation for personal gain on the eve of the parliamentary elections,” Heydarzadeh said. The Majlis vote is slated for mid-March.