Air pollution in Tehran enters second week

Air pollution costs Iranians $30b a year

Iran’s struggle with air pollution costs its people $30 billion a year—nearly double the $16 billion reported by the World Health Organization in 2014, according to the country’s top environment official.

Addressing lawmakers on Wednesday to encourage MPs to pass the Clean Air Bill, Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of the Department of Environment, said it is imperative for the bill to be signed into law to help curb air pollution and its hefty costs, Mehr News Agency reported.

She said the bill makes it possible to better control manmade (e.g. vehicle emissions) and natural (e.g. dust particles) pollutants “when there are laws in place”.

Emphasizing the contribution of human activities to the country’s poor air quality, the DOE chief said, “By overhauling our energy policies, we’ll be able to solve the bulk of our problems, because as things stand, our energy consumption is nine times the global standard.”

Ebtekar moved to allay fears of various industries, assuring them that the bill “will have no impact on their activities”.

Lawmakers are expected to deliberate and vote on the bill soon, after letting it gather dust for nearly two years.

In late August, the 35-article Clean Air Bill was passed by the Majlis Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Commission, paving the way for it to be reviewed and passed by the parliament before being signed into law by President Hassan Rouhani.

The bill singles out inefficient vehicles, substandard fuels, industrial activities and dust storms as the major sources of air pollution in the country.

Drawn up by the DOE in cooperation with relevant bodies, the bill proposes more frequent technical inspections of private vehicles. While the current law stipulates technical inspection of all vehicles once every five years, the DOE is pushing for biennial checks.

The department insists that government vehicles be subjected to annual inspections.

With 26,000 annual deaths due to air pollution, Iran ranks 16th in terms of air pollution-related deaths, according to figures released by the WHO last month.

The bill is expected to help alleviate the problem, but a lot more needs to be done to effectively address the worsening problem.

The government has banned the production of highly-polluting, carburetor-equipped motorcycles from September and is urging people to opt for eco-friendly electric ones.

The administration has been distributing Euro-4 gasoline in major cities for months and has ordered automakers to make their products comply with the standard.

By Financial Tribune