High Urban Density Blamed for Air Pollution

High Urban Density Blamed for Air PollutionHigh Urban Density Blamed for Air Pollution

High urban density in Tehran and disproportionate distribution of population is one of the major risk factors for air pollution and “the crisis won’t subside even in the next 50 years,” said Nabiollah Mansouri, university professor at the Science and Research Branch, Department of Health, Safety and Environment, Islamic Azad University.

Several officials have claimed that the gasoline produced at petrochemical plants is the main reason why pollution has escalated in the past years. On the other hand, however, Tehran has been coping with air pollution over the past 50 years, while with gasoline pollution in the past six years only. Therefore, the latter cannot be the defining factor behind air pollution, Mansouri said.

All types of fuels “have their own positive and negative effects.” While gasoline produced at petrochemical plants combusts well in engines it can be highly harmful to those in direct contact with the vapors. “As pollution caused by this type of gasoline is not visible, its elimination will not yield visible results and skies will not clear up,” he said quoted by ILNA.

 In Excess

Excessive transportation, traffic, factories and industrial plants within the city, (which are all offshoots of disproportional urban density), as well as the geographical position and climate status all add to Tehran’s pollution crisis.  

The urban density in the city in fact, is currently 200 to 300 percent higher than several European and American cities. “At best, the climatic conditions are suitable to hold half of the urban density of European cities.” The recent trend of building apartments as high as eight stories, in places where not higher than 2 floors existed has in particular proved pernicious. When the number of homes in a certain area increases so will the number of cars, and in effect, pollution, the professor said.

 Building Off-Shoot

He pointed out that the municipality has been largely relying on construction projects for its budget resources. Hazardous fuel is a short-term problem which can be addressed and eliminated. The construction sector however, will stay for a long time to come and the activity will continue to add to the problems.

Precipitation, winds, and inversion are all major determining factors in pollution. Unfortunately for half the year in Tehran “no winds blow and if the number of rainy days and wind levels stay the same as earlier years, air pollution will certainly aggravate further.”

The only way to address the pollution crisis is to replace all combustion engine vehicles with electric cars and reduce urban density. Although the Department of Environment has been trying to tackle the issue, a single organization cannot independently clean up the mess of pollution. Municipalities and the oil ministry must also join in to prevent this “imminent catastrophe from happening.”