15 Provinces Engulfed in Dust, Pollution

15 Provinces Engulfed in Dust, Pollution15 Provinces Engulfed in Dust, Pollution

U nwelcome dust storms made their way to up to 15 provinces last week, forcing provincial officials to take measures.

According to Iran’s Meteorological Organization, the provinces of Tehran, Markazi, Hamedan, Zanjan, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Kurdistan, Alborz, Khuzestan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari were affected by dust pollution, with southern and western provinces taking the brunt of the storms, Persian daily Iran reported.

 Worrying Reports

The embattled Khuzestan Province has once again been subject to dust storms, with reports indicating particulate pollution reaching as high as twice the standard limit in recent days.

According to Ahmadreza Lahijanzadeh, head of the provincial office of the Department of Environment (DoE) dust particle levels reached 310 and 330 micrograms per cubic meter in Ahvaz and Dezful respectively.

In Markazi Province, the provincial office of DoE issued a warning, urging children, the elderly, and those suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory diseases to stay indoors, according to the head of the office Mazyar Khakbaz.

“Iraq is the main source of the dust pollution,” he said, adding that strong winds blow the dust particles over the border and into Iran.

The pollution monitoring center of the University of Medical Sciences in Hamedan Province announced that more particles were entering the province, and they also advised sensitive individuals to stay within the confines of their homes.

“Lack of vegetation and strong winds worsen the effect of dust storms,” said Hamid Ghasemi, head of the DoE office in East Azerbaijan Province.

Dust pollution reached dangerous levels in some provinces, including Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari and West Azerbaijan, where pollution levels spiked 5 times higher than normal, according to local media.

Similar reports came out of most of the affected provinces, sending alarm bells ringing for officials to start brainstorming. With the summer season fast approaching, the dry climate of the Middle East will only serve to exacerbate the issue; therefore, the need for a solution is urgently felt.

 Crisis Management

According to Kurdistan Province’s head of crisis management Davoud Kamangar, provincial heads of crisis management passed a number of resolutions in a meeting to help prevent damage to public health until some workable solution to the dust storms predicament is found, ISNA reported.

“The resolutions are aimed at informing people of incoming dust storms as soon as possible,” he elaborated.

The resolutions task provincial Red Crescent societies with training and contingencies against the dust storms, while hospitals will offer free services to anyone affected by them, he added.

“Informing and preparing people, as well as providing precise information can go a long way in reducing harm, and we tried to cover these points in the resolutions,” he noted.

Dust storms have been wreaking havoc across the southwestern provinces in recent months, crippling daily life in Khuzestan Province and filling emergency rooms.

Last week officials expressed hope that the recent rainfall across the country would delay the emergence of dust storms until September in Khuzestan, but the recent rise in particulate pollution indicates a miscalculation in predictions.