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Photos: Views of Pollution Struck Tehran

Tehran on Sunday: Photos by Mona Hoobehfekr, ISNA

Air pollution is expected to reach critical level on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tehran's air pollution has reached an alarming level, and it is expected that it will reach a critical level on Tuesday and Wednesday. Health Minister Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi announced on Sunday that there has been a 30% increase in the number of respiratory illness cases during the past few days. She also advised old men, children, and persons with respiratory and heart problems to stay indoors.


Related Report by Tabnak

Tehran Air Pollution Still Alarming

Air pollution in Tehran remains at an alarming level, as air quality indicators persistently showed Tehran's pollution worsening on Saturday.

Officials in Tehran cut working hours while a blanket of pollutants continued to shroud the skies of the capital.

A committee dealing with emergency cases of pollution in Tehran held a meeting on Friday to discuss the 'alarming' level of pollution, IRNA reported. 

The committee, attended by Tehran Governor Morteza Tamaddon, decided not to close any governmental institutions, but to curtail working and school hours. Banks and medical centers are exceptions.

Stopping polluting vehicles and industries, a stricter reinforcement of traffic laws and stepping up local traffic restrictions were among measures approved by the committee.

It has also called for the cancellation of outdoor sports activities and urged residents to avoid driving their cars and use public transportation instead. 

The decisions come two days after authorities declared a 24-hour public holiday for schools, offices and factories in Tehran, following warnings by the State Meteorology Organization about high pollution levels earlier in the week.

Quarries, mines and brick factories have been temporarily closed in the western and southern suburbs of the capital. 

The city's air pollution is mostly blamed on its geographical location and increasing population and cars. 

Ambulances Available

The committee has announced that ambulances and aid workers have been stationed in six squares of Tehran to serve citizens as of Saturday. 

"Aid workers have taken position in the most crowded places of the city, including Azadi, Imam Hussein (AS), Resalat, Tajrish and Imam Khomeini Squares," said Reza Dehqanpour who attended the committee.

Dehqanpour said physicians and specialists are available to help citizens in case of emergency. 

He pointed out that masks currently available in the market are not medically helpful and, on the contrary, may intensify symptoms of chronic diseases. 

"The committee has no program to distribute medical masks among citizens," he said, adding that citizens can enjoy free of charge medical treatments in these ambulances.

Dehqanpour urged citizens to avoid going to parks and doing morning exercises. 
Coronary and asthmatic patients have been asked to avoid exposure to polluted air.

Milk, Vegetables Recommended

The daily use of milk and vegetables is recommended when the weather is highly polluted. 

"Milk contains phosphorous, calcium and manganese, which are helpful in neutralizing the effect of floating poisonous materials in polluted weather," said Masoud Kimiagar, a nutritionist.

He noted that severe air pollution damages body tissues.

"Those living in polluted area are more prone to developing diseases related to the damage of body tissues," he said, adding that children living in these areas are likely to complain about digestive problems.

"Consumption of healthy foods such as fresh vegetables and dairy products will help immunize the body against different diseases."

Kimiagar said pregnant women, children and the elderly must consume at least two glasses of milk every day. 

Air Pollution Toll

A high level of carbon monoxide can pose health risks for city-dwellers, especially children, elderly people and those suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. These people have been urged to stay home to prevent getting seizure.

Figures shows a sharp rise in pollution-related deaths in Iran, where 9,900 people died of pollution during March 2005-6.

Half of Iran's six million cars fails to meet global standards and burns twice as much gasoline as a European car. With pump prices at a mere nine cents a liter (41 cents per gallon), streets are crammed with cars, with terrible traffic jams in rush hours.

The pollution problem becomes particularly acute during winter when lack of wind and cold weather means clouds of smog sit on the city for days on end.

Presidential Advice

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had earlier suggested that the transfer of five million inhabitants of Tehran province to other provinces will be helpful in solving Tehran's traffic and air pollution.

The president had made the above suggestion as the only way to solve some of the woes facing Tehran's residents.

Tehran province houses about 12.3 million people, of whom 8 million live in Tehran city, which worsens traffic jams, air pollution, ailments and standard of living.

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