National Plan to Contain Fine Air-Borne Particles

National Plan to Contain Fine Air-Borne ParticlesNational Plan to Contain Fine Air-Borne Particles

A national plan to reduce air-borne fine particles in different provinces in the country was announced by Masoumeh Ebtekar, vice-president and head of the Department of Environment (DoE) at a recent meeting with executive directors of the Arvand Free Zone, governors of Abadan and Khorramshahr counties and officials.

The sources and origins of fine particles in Khuzestan Province have been identified and a special program to contain the problem is being developed, IRNA reported.  

“Due to the oil exploration projects in recent years in Houralazim (or Hoveyzeh, the biggest wetland in the province), and contrary to the environmental impact assessment criteria, some parts of the wetland dried up and therefore the region became a source of dust emissions.”

Houralazim is the only remaining part of Mesopotamia’s big wetlands located in the western part of Khuzestan Province and is rich in terms of biodiversity. The main part of the wetland’s water resources is provided by Karkheh, Nissan, Sable Rivers and their tributaries.


In cooperation with the oil ministry, last month “we removed dikes installed in the wetland which earlier prevented water flow; therefore 140 hectares of the wetland will be dewatered by next year-end (starts March 21),” Ebtekar said.

Dewatering is the removal of water from solid material or soil by wet classification, centrifugation, filtration, or similar solid-liquid separation processes, such as removal of residual liquid from a filter cake by a filter press as part of various industrial processes.

With the implementation of the national plan, some of the major contributors of fine particles in the region will be contained.

Ebtekar also referred to reports of fine airborne particles coming into the country from Iraq and said “recently we held a meeting with Iraq’s minister of water affairs and Iran’s concerns in this regard were expressed.”

A joint meeting will be held soon in Najaf between the head of Iraq’s DoE and Iranian representatives, where the issue of airborne fine particles will be discussed.

 WHO Survey

It should be pointed out that the World Health Organization’s first global survey of fine particle pollutants in 2011, said US and Canadian towns are among the cleanest and Iranian cities have some of the worst pollution in the world, with fine particle presence 20 times higher than the recommended upper limit.

Cities in Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia are among the worst for air pollution, while those in the US and Canada are among the best.

Ahvaz in Iran had the distinction of the highest measured level of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometers, according to the WHO survey.

Outdoor air pollution causes an estimated 1.34 million premature deaths a year, said WHO. Investments to lower pollution levels quickly pay off owing to lower disease rates and, therefore, lower healthcare costs, it said.

The list, which relies on country-reported data over several years, measures the levels of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometers – so-called PM10s – for almost 1,100 cities.

 Upper Limit

WHO recommends an upper limit of 20 micrograms for PM10s, which can cause serious respiratory problems in humans. They are mostly sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide from power plants, vehicle exhausts and industry.

Ahvaz’s annual average of PM10s was 372 micrograms per cubic meter.

The study found that the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator had an annual average PM10s density of 279 micrograms per cubic meter followed by another Iranian city, Sanandaj, with 254 micrograms.

Cities in Pakistan and India, such as Quetta and Kanpur, as well as Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, also ranked high on the pollution scale.

WHO said the reasons for the high levels varied but that often rapid industrialization and the use of poor quality fuels for transport and electricity generation are to blame.

At the other end of the list are cities in Canada and the US, which benefit from lower population density, favorable climates and stricter air pollution regulation.