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Dust storms have created havoc in the south and southwestern provinces for extended periods.
Dust storms have created havoc in the south and southwestern provinces for extended periods.

Dust Storm Sends Hundreds to Hospitals in Sistan

The government has earmarked $100 million to combat dust storms in the current fiscal year that began in March

Dust Storm Sends Hundreds to Hospitals in Sistan

During the past few days, sand and dust storms in Zabol, Zehak, Hirmand, Hamoun and Nimrouz in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province left hundreds of people choking, said Dr Ali Akbar Nasiri, head of Zabol University of Medical Sciences, on Thursday.
The storms sent 831 people to hospitals of whom 120 were hospitalized due to respiratory and cardiovascular complaints and the rest received outpatient services. “All the provincial hospitals are on standby to offer services,” IRNA quoted him as saying.
The storm increased in intensity on Tuesday (with wind speeds reaching 90 km/h) and continued until Thursday, said Mosaddeq Goudarzi from the provincial office of the Iran Meteorological Organization.
“We forecast strong winds for Friday night and Saturday which means the dust storms will persist in the province,” he added.
The storms also disrupted traffic in the cities.
According to Pirhossein Kolivand, head of Iran’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS), on Wednesday alone 42 road accidents were reported in the province due to the dust storms in which 14 people were killed.
Dust storms have created havoc in the south and southwestern provinces for extended periods. Drying wetlands in southeastern Iran (like Hamoun Wetland) are major sources of the sand and dust storms, also known as SDS. Excessive dam construction, declining precipitation and global warming have exacerbated the region’s plight as it struggles with ever increasing levels of toxic pollution.
The government has earmarked $100 million to combat dust storms in the current fiscal year that began on in March.
Funding that will be made available by the National Development Fund of Iran, will be used to implement key projects such as reforestation, mulching and revival of wetlands and rivers that have become major hotspots for SDS.

  Air Pollution Toll on Human Health
Out of the three million global annual deaths linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution, 210,000 are in the Eastern Mediterranean region. “Air pollution is a serious concern in our cities that has particular health implications for children and pregnant women, and also for increasing rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” says Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the region, 94% of deaths related to exposure to air pollutants are due to NCDs – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risk for acute respiratory infections.
Major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities. Air quality can also be influenced by dust storms, particularly in regions close to deserts. The fine particles act like urban smog or acid rain. They can penetrate deep into human body.
As WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean region is highly affected by natural desert dust particles, this may result in high estimates of the health burden according to conventional estimation methods. However, there is a need for better assessment of the health impacts from natural dust.

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