Air Quality in SW Iran Critical

Air Quality in SW Iran CriticalAir Quality in SW Iran Critical

The haze of dust enveloping Iran's southwestern provinces is most likely to be blown away by the approaching low-pressure system in the next few days, based on recent data provided by the provincial meteorological organization.

The Air Quality Index went past dangerous levels in Khuzestan Province on Tuesday and the high level of PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less) in Ahvaz forced schools and public offices to close. 

According to Shahriar Asgari, the head of public relations at the provincial Department of Environment, PM10 concentration in Ahvaz reached 7,135 µg/m3—47 times the standard—on Tuesday morning while the acceptable daily average for the index is 150 µg/m3, IRNA reported.

All schools were closed in 14 counties of Khuzestan, including Ahvaz, Hamidiyeh, Karoun, Bavi, Shadegan, Abadan, Khorramshahr, Hendijan, Omidiyeh, Mahshahr, Ramhormoz, Ramshir, Hoveyzeh and Dasht-e Azadegan. 

All public offices were only open until 12 pm. 

"Due to the low visibility of below 200 meters, all the flights were canceled at Ahvaz International Airport until further notice," he added.

Asgari noted that Mahshahr, with a PM10 concentration of 2,890 and Hamidieh with 1,317 were respectively cities with the poorest air quality in the province. The figure averaged 99.25 in other cities.

Khuzestan is not the only victim. Air quality monitoring stations in Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad and Lorestan provinces showed higher-than-standard AQI. 

However, the situation in the two provinces was not deemed critical so as to require emergency measures. As a result, schools and offices remained open. 

Experts believe most of the sources of dust storms, which have become more frequent and intense recently, originate in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria, but domestic sources, including the desiccated wetlands such as Hoor al-Azim in Khuzestan and Hamouns in Sistan-Baluchestan, have made a bad situation worse. 

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