People, Environment

Natanz, Zabol Besieged by Dust Storms

The dust storms are exacerbated by the low water level of Hamoun Wetlands. The dust storms are exacerbated by the low water level of Hamoun Wetlands.

Particulate matter concentration reached dangerous levels on Wednesday in Natanz and Zabol, sending local authorities into damage-control mode.

Zabol in Sistan-Baluchestan Province has been struggling with dust storms for years, thanks to both local and foreign dust storm hotspots, ISNA reported.

Every summer, from mid-May to mid-September, a phenomenon known locally as the 120-day winds blow massive amounts of dust and other particulate matter from neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan into the province, and Zabol is one of the worst-hit cities.

The problem is exacerbated by the low water level of Hamoun Wetlands and worsened by the fact that temperatures in summer exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

"We've had to hand out 5,000 air pollution masks to help people cope with the deteriorating air quality," Houshang Nazeri, governor general of Sistan-Baluchestan, said.

Zabol was given the unenviable title of world's most polluted city by the World Health Organization last year.

According to Reza Arbabi, the head of the provincial Disaster Management Organization, 66 people have been hospitalized since Monday while 236 received outpatient services.

Isfahan Province, particularly the city of Natanz, has also had to deal with dust storms. IRNA reported on Wednesday that field of vision had been reduced to a mere 500 meters in the city.

Local officials in both provinces urged people to avoid outdoor activities as much as possible. Conditions are expected to get worse in Isfahan and Sistan-Baluchestan on Thursday and Friday.


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