Elementary schools closed in Iranian capital amid high pollution levels

Press TV – All elementary schools in and around the Iranian capital Tehran have been suspended for the last day of the education week amid elevated levels of pollution in the smog-ridden city.

The governor of Tehran province said on Tuesday that elementary schools in cities of Tehran, as well as in Varamin, Qarchak and Pishva, all to the south of the capital, will be closed on Wednesday given that an index measuring the quality of the air in those cities was still at unhealthy levels, especially for sensitive groups of the population.

Anoushirvan Mohseni said air quality index for 10 districts of the capital city had already exceeded 150, a figure representing the amount of particulate pollutants in each cubic meter of air, saying the index was above 130 in other areas of Tehran and surrounding cities.

Mohseni recommended elderly people, children, pregnant women and those with heart, arteries and lung complications to remain indoors and avoid travelling for unnecessary purposes.

The decision to suspend schools in Tehran is the first to come at this time of the year when the cold and dry weather in Tehran causes pollution to accompany rising warm air, leading to the creation of a smog blanket over the city.

Tehran is normally spared of severe levels of pollution seen in other populated cities in Asia. The air quality index is normally at levels between 150 and 200 at their harshest, much lower than figures recorded in cities like New Delhi in India and Beijing in China.

However, to help reduce the smog, authorities normally impose restrictions on travel inside Tehran while ordering factories around the city to close down for several days.

Government officials said earlier this year that the quality of the gasoline produced inside Iran and pumped into the cars had drastically improved, helping to reduce the number of days each year affected by pollution in Tehran and other large cities.