Dust Storms Close Schools, Workplaces in Several Cities

Experts suggest that sandstorms in the spring have sources outside of the country
Dust Storms Close Schools, Workplaces in Several Cities
Dust Storms Close Schools, Workplaces in Several Cities

Iran closed down schools, universities and offices on Tuesday as dust storms choked Tehran and western areas in the country and rose air pollution to dangerously high levels.
Dusts and particles entered the country from Iraq on Sunday, triggering a health crisis that prompted meetings of emergency taskforces on late Monday, ISNA reported. 
PM10 readings in Tehran reached 238 micrograms per cubic meter on Tuesday, “very unhealthy” for all age groups. PM10 are small airborne pollutants that can enter the lungs and the bloodstream and cause premature death. 
“The air pollution will intensify on Tuesday, that is why it was decided that all offices, schools and universities should close,” deputy to Tehran’s governor-general, Abed Maleki, said. 
Iran is continuously being hit by sandstorms that put the lives of the public in grave danger. Since the start of the new Iranian Year on March 21, Tehran has only reported two days with satisfactory air quality. 
Education institutions and offices also closed in several western provinces, namely Ilam, Lorestan, Kermanshah, Khuzestan, Hamadan, Kurdestan, and Western Azerbaijan, where air quality is much worse than Tehran. 
Some cities in the west reported PM10 readings as high as 10,000 µg/m3, 67 times higher than the standards put forward by the World Health Organization.
Only a small part of the sandstorms reach Tehran and they mostly affect western regions. Local officials have advised against outdoor activities. The storms are expected to clear by Wednesday. 
Frequent droughts in the past few years have increased arid lands near cities that can become sources of dusts and particles. Experts suggest that sandstorms in the spring have sources outside of the country. 




Head of Tehran’s Air Quality Control Company, Mohammad Mahdi Mirzaei, said on Tuesday that excessive dam-building in neighboring Turkey on Tigris and Euphrates rivers have dwindled water flow rates in Iraq which in turn creates sandstorms in Iran. 
“With the rise in desertification in Iraq and Syria, numerous sources of dust have been activated in them,” he said, adding, “They greatly influence western Iran.”
The storms can be so intense that the particles travel to the far east of Iran to cities like Mashhad. 
Last week, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian voiced concern about the construction of dams in Turkey, in particular on the Aras River. 
“Turkey’s construction of dams on the border waters is unacceptable and we oppose it,” the top diplomat said. 
The official pointed out that no bilateral agreement exists on the issue. The Iranian government has been pushing for more cooperation in the water-stressed region. Turkey’s construction of dams on the Aras threaten water availability in Iran. 
Following the minister’s remarks, Ankara denied the assertions and claimed that Iran’s stance is unscientific. 
Dust storms take a heavy toll on Iran’s healthcare system. According to the WHO’s estimates in 2019, air pollution in rural and urban areas can bring about as many as seven million deaths a year.

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