People, Environment

Pollution Measurement a Challenge to DOE

Heavy metal contamination in soilHeavy metal contamination in soil

The need for sophisticated and precise machines to monitor pollution and their high operational and maintenance costs pose a challenge to the Department of Environment.

In addition to the department’s low budget, which makes acquiring new devices difficult, the components and supplementary equipment of existing systems are not easy to come by since international sanctions on Iran have not yet been entirely lifted, according to an official at the DOE.

“For example, the DOE is in possession of an accurate device that measures the pollution caused by waste incinerator plants, but we have not been able to use it because we’re lacking key equipment and cannot currently acquire them,” Shina Ansari, director of the department’s Environmental Monitoring Office, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

The gas chromatography/high-resolution device is a sensitive piece of equipment which needs an isolation tank to work. Once launched, it will enable the measurement of dioxins and furans, the two major pollutant indices of waste incinerators.

Ansari added that monitoring for dioxins and furans is a priority of the DOE.

Environmental pollution is evident in soil, water and air; as such, its assessment and monitoring differ from area to area, which means different systems are needed to measure pollution in different areas.

Heavy metals are among the most hazardous contaminants whose accumulation in air, water and soil is a major environmental problem.

These materials neither biodegrade nor are metabolized by human body.

At present, 29 out of Iran’s 31 provinces are equipped to measure the levels of these dangerous elements.

“Sampling and analyzing heavy metals in industrial, agricultural and household wastewater, surface waters and groundwater, vegetation and soil, sediments and even marine species’ tissues will provide important information about the conditions of the environment and help control the spread of pollutants,” said Ansari.

Chemical pesticides are other major polluting substances. Although the per capita consumption of chemicals in Iran is relatively low, they still pose risks in some regions, including in northern provinces.

Unsystematic use, inappropriate choice of pesticide and ignorance about their half-lives in various environments can and do lead to high levels of soil and water pollution.

“Given the high costs of pesticide measurement, only some DOE offices in vulnerable regions are equipped with gas chromatography systems, with metropolises taking priority,” she said, stressing that this is way below acceptable monitoring standards.


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