People, Environment

Dust Storms Batter Kurdestan

Dust Storms Batter KurdestanDust Storms Batter Kurdestan

Kurdestan Province in western Iran has been hit by a wave of dust storms since Sunday evening, plunging the region’s air quality to dangerously low levels and reducing visibility to less than 100 meters in certain cities.

The amount of dust pollution across the province is currently three times the global standard, which is 20 µg/m3 based on World Health Organization’s guidelines, Mehr News Agency reported.

According to the provincial department of Iran Meteorological Organization, the dust storm rose in Syria and Iraq around midday Sunday and gradually moved toward Iran, hitting the border cities of Baneh and Marivan first and spreading across the entire province.

The storm is said to be moving toward Ardabil Province and the southern shores of Caspian Sea.

“The air quality indices have been measured based on the data recorded by monitoring and measurement systems in Sanandaj and Saqqez but can be applied to all counties since the storm has covered the whole region equally,” said Mahan Rahimi, head of laboratory affairs at the provincial office of the Department of Environment.

Ali Panahi, an expert of the provincial IMO, said it was predicted that the particulate matter would gradually clear up starting Monday evening but will still remain in the mountains and heights of the province.

“In countries like Iraq, which are mainly covered by plains, dust particles linger for a short duration in mountainous regions and often disappear in an hour or two,” he said, adding that Kurdestan is one of the mountainous regions from where dust does not escape easily.

“We should either hope for winds to blow the dust away or wait desperately for it to subside and thin out,” he said.

Dust storms, which have become more frequent and severe in recent years, often batter Iran’s western and southwestern provinces, while their effects are observed in more than two-thirds of the country.

According to official statements, only 5% of dust particles found in storms ravaging Iran originate from domestic sources; in other words, dust storms originating from beyond the borders are major contributors to Iran’s past and present predicaments.

Studies indicate that Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, as well as North African deserts are significant sources of dust storms affecting and afflicting Iran.