Following two air pollution-ridden days, Tehran’s air quality began to improve on Wednesday as particulate matter concentrations subsided.
The air quality in Tehran, which has been surprisingly good since the beginning of the Iranian year (March 20), plunged as the concentration of particulate matters shot up earlier this week.
According to data made available on Tehran Air Quality Control Company’s website, concentration of PM2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter) jumped from 67 on Saturday to 106 on Sunday based on World Health Organization Guidelines.
The guidelines stipulate that PM2.5 concentrations above 100 pose health risks to vulnerable groups, namely the elderly, children, pregnant women and people suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
The concentration of PM2.5 continued to rise until Tuesday, when it reached 146–only four points off the “unhealthy” threshold according to WHO guidelines. On Wednesday, PM2.5 levels dropped to 94, but whether it would continue to decline was not immediately clear at the time of writing.
The sudden rise in particulate matter is attributed to dust storms that first engulfed Kurdestan Province in the west, reducing visibility in the province to less than 800 meters on Monday.
Massive dust storms frequently hit the western and southwestern regions of Iran, at times forcing everyone indoors and filling emergency rooms with people complaining of breathing difficulties and other ailments.
Experts believe that most sources of dust storms, which have become more frequent and intense recently, are located in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria, but domestic sources, including the desiccated wetlands such as Hoor al-Azim in Khuzestan and Hamouns in Sistan-Baluchestan, have made a bad situation worse.
During the second UN Environment Assembly (May 23-27) in Nairobi, Kenya, a resolution proposed by Iran and backed by Pakistan and Iraq, which aims to enlist the aid of Middle East countries to tackle the dust storms, was approved.
The Iranian government has allocated between 600 billion and 1.2 trillion rials ($17.4 million-$34.8 million) in the sixth economic development plan (2016-21) to help alleviate the worsening weather crisis.
In addition, the Global Environment Fund will provide financial aid to a joint effort by the Department of Environment and the UN Environment Programme to combat the phenomenon.
By Financial Tribune