Air pollution reached dangerous levels in Ahwaz, Khuzestan province on January 31. Authorities ordered the closure of schools and advised businesses to reduce their hours after a toxic smog covered the city.
“The city was covered in dust,” the Khuzestan edition of the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported. There were footprints on the city’s sidewalks, and people on the streets looked as if they were “emerging from a hazy dream.”
Pollution levels were ten times higher than normal, according to the Environmental Protection and Climate Agency in Khuzestan. But one report said pollution levels were as much as 70 times the norm.
The general governor and the head of Ahwaz’s Crisis management Office of Ahwaz took the decision to close universities and schools in Ahwaz and 12 other cities in the region.
Ahmadreza Lahijanzadeh, the chief director of Environmental Protection Organization, told ISNA that levels were so bad because a storm had pushed pollution from neighboring Iraq into the province.
“The storm intensified from 9am on Wednesday, January 29 and, in only two hours, the dust pollution index reached 120, which indicates that particles less than 10 micron increased to a staggering figure of 10,000 microgram per cubic meter,” Lahijanzadeh said. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a normal reading would be somewhere around 150 microgram per cubic meters. “The same phenomenon continued until Thursday afternoon, when it began to diminish at dusk,” Lahijanzadeh said, adding that that the same thing happened on Friday afternoon as wind storms picked up. “The unprecedented density of dust shocked people, making it difficult for pupils to attend school. Whole classrooms were covered in dust. We were seriously concerned about public health.”
The Environmental Protection Organization’s Shahriar Izadi told KhuzNews, “Nearly all cities in the province were immersed in dust; in Susangerd the dust pollution index reached 3800. The situation in Abadan and Dasht Azadegan were about the same.”
In some cases, he said, the exact figures for pollution levels were not available because the instruments the agency used were not equipped to register figures above 10,000 micrograms per cubic meter.
Read the original article in Persian