DOE Claims “Proactive” Measures Against Pollution

DOE Claims  “Proactive” Measures Against Pollution DOE Claims  “Proactive” Measures Against Pollution

The Department of Environment’s recent moves aimed at curbing Tehran’s dangerous air pollution are working, according to a senior official at the department.

Speaking to ISNA, Saeed Motessadi, deputy for human habitats, said unlike previous years when the department would react to toxic pollution, “now we have adopted a proactive strategy.”

The DOE takes measures to prevent a hike in pollutant concentration, rather than wait until pollution peaks and implement measures to reduce it, he said.

“We strive to improve and raise the standards to which we hold ourselves,” the official said, adding that experience shows previous measures were inadequate and ineffective.

Recalling the effects of the department’s preventive measures, Motessadi said the strategies helped stop pollution levels from crossing the 150 AQI (air quality index) barrier.

“Once a yellow alert (AQI 101 – 150) was issued, we managed to control the concentration of pollutants,” he said.

This is while Tehran’s air pollution reached a nine-month high of 162 on December 14; within a “red status” which means the level of toxic pollutants in the air posed health risks to each and every person and not just those deemed sensitive.

On Saturday, when Tehran’s AQI (air quality index) was hovering around 141, the DOE announced short-term measures to mitigate the pollution, including the shutting down of asphalt plants and cement factories around Tehran until Friday and a week-long ban on the sales of daily traffic zone permits.

Schools were also closed for three days.

Ironically, the meters registered an even higher AQI of 153 on Sunday — a day after the quick-fix measures went into effect.

  Policy Reform

The national committee to combat air pollution is considering changes to air pollution response policies, including measures to address a weather phenomenon known as temperature inversion, which has become a thorn in Tehran’s side in the past few years.

“We requested every relevant body to submit their proposals [to deal with inversion] by Monday,” Motessadi said.

Temperature inversion, which occurs every winter, magnifies the Iranian capital’s unending struggle with air pollution as it prevents emissions from rising above cold air. Whereas normally temperature is cooler at higher altitudes, sometimes —especially during winter — temperature rises with height. This so-called inversion means cold air underlies warmer air at higher altitudes.

Smog is impacted by the inversion layer because it is in essence, capped, when the warm air mass moves over an area. This happens because the warmer air layer sits over Tehran and prevents the normal mixing of cooler, denser air. The air instead becomes still and over time the lack of mixing causes pollutants to become trapped under the inversion, developing significant amounts of smog.

Tehran’s topography piles on the misery: The metropolis is located in a valley surrounded by towering mountains, which enhance the formation and increase the strength of inversions.

According to official reports exhaust fumes from five million cars make up 80% of Tehran’s air pollution that every year during the start of winter shuts down schools, locks up millions in homes and fills hospitals with young and old having difficulty breathing and other respiratory ailments.