Gov’t approves air pollution roadmap

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a roadmap containing a set of guidelines aimed at reducing air pollution in Iran’s eight metropolises and instructed relevant bodies with their duties.

As the largest metropolis, Tehran has received special attention in the government scheme. Tabriz, Shiraz, Mashhad, Ahvaz, Karaj, Isfahan and Arak are the other metropolises.

The roadmap targets a 15.1% reduction in Tehran’s gaseous pollutants, such as sulfur oxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and ozone, and a 17.1% reduction in particulate matter pollutants, namely PM10 and the typically more dangerous PM2.5, Mehr News Agency reported.

Mobile sources of air pollution, such as vehicles, are responsible for more than 80% of Tehran’s air pollution, so the government hopes to improve air quality by incentivizing the production and purchase of low-emission cars to gradually replace the five million clunkers that ply the streets of Iran’s capital city.

The Central Bank of Iran has been instructed to allocate 22 trillion rials ($638 million) to a loan scheme made available through Melli, Mellat, Tejarat, Saderat and Tose’ Tavon banks at a 20% interest rate to help renovate the aging fleet of taxis, buses and minibuses in the country’s largest cities.

The government’s long-term roadmap is to permanently reduce air pollution by implementing measures to reduce emissions from mobile sources, increasing the costs of maintaining clunkers, imposing traffic restrictions (such as introducing Low Emission Zones), encouraging the production of competitively-priced vehicles with high emission standards and expanding public transportation networks.

In addition to the toxic fumes from old vehicles, Iran’s largest cities are overwhelmed my pollutants emitted from industrial units located in their vicinity, not to mention the intense dust storms that have both domestic and foreign sources.

Dust storms from Iraq and Syria have impacted air quality in most of western Iran and have reached as far as Tehran, where air quality has been hovering above 100 for the past week, meaning the air is unhealthy for vulnerable groups, namely the elderly, children, pregnant women and people suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory problems based on World Health Organizations guidelines.

On Saturday, Tehran’s air quality index was 103, an improvement from the 116 registered on Friday.

By Financial Tribune