High UV Radiation a Health Risk Near Urmia Lake

High UV Radiation a Health Risk Near Urmia LakeHigh UV Radiation a Health Risk Near Urmia Lake

Ultraviolet radiation around Urmia Lake has increased four-fold over the past 10 years due to the decreasing water level, according to an official at the Urmia Lake Restoration Program.

Masoud Tajrishi, head of planning at ULRP, said the increase in UV radiation has a multitude of health impacts, the worst being cataracts, ILNA reported.

“There also is the risk of skin cancer if you spend too much time around the lake,” he warned.

Asked about what has been done so far to minimize the impact of UV damage, Tajrishi said the bulk of the ULRP health scheme is focused on curbing the effects of dust and salt storms.

“Teams will be sent to villages around the lake to screen locals for the effects of UV radiation,” he said.

The harmful effects from exposure to ultraviolet radiation can be classified from acute to chronic. The acute effects of UV exposure are both short-lived and reversible. The chronic effects can be serious, even life threatening, and include premature aging of the skin, suppression of the immune system, damage the eyes and cause skin cancer.

UV rays can also damage the eyes as more than 99% of radiation is absorbed by the front of the eyes. Corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration are all possible chronic effects from UV exposure and could lead to blindness.

Urmia Lake’s water level is expected to drop as the mercury rises in the hot seasons. This summer is forecast to be around 1.8 degrees Celsius warmer than last year.

The lake’s area has more than tripled since 2013—when the ULRP was formed— from 700 to 2,500 square kilometers, but that’s not enough to curtail the dangerous impact of UV exposure.

Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Urmia Lake has been facing serious drought for years. Its severe water loss is attributed to climate change, the long dry spell, unrestrained damming and irresponsible water use, especially in the agriculture sector.

The ULRP in 2013 set out to stabilize the lake’s water level (Phase 1) before embarking on the more challenging task of restoring its water volume to what it was more than a decade ago (Phase 2).

The first phase was completed last September and the second phase started shortly after, with the initial goal of increasing the water level by 40 centimeters a year.  The declared target is to restore the lake’s ecological balance by 2023, though lack of funds could lead to the project missing the deadline.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints