Authorities in Tehran have declared the second government holiday in a month due to deadly air pollution.  All schools, public offices, and banks will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday December 2nd and 3rd because conditions have been determined to be “polluted and unhealthy.”  Children, the ill and the elderly have been urged to remain indoors, and all sports and other outdoor activities have been cancelled.  The air in Tehran is some of the most polluted in the world, largely due to the growing traffic congestion and the geographical location of the city.

The city of Tehran is rapidly growing, and there are a high number of cars on the roads.  The level of pollutants is well above the standard set by the World Health Organization.  According to the Tehran mayor’s office, the 1.4 million vehicles in the city pump an estimated 5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.  Many of the cars are old which increases the amount of pollution being emitted.  In addition, the city is located between mountains which trap the pollution when there is no wind or rain to clear it. 

Health experts say that many Iranians suffer serious health problems as a result of the pollution. Iran’s Health Ministry reported that there has been a 30% increase in admission of patients suffering from breathing problems in the past few days.  It is estimated that thousands of deaths a year are caused by heart attacks and respiratory illnesses brought on by this pollution.

In the long-term, Iranian officials are working to try to reduce the pollution by expanding public transportation, enforcing more strict traffic laws, and requiring vehicle emission inspections.  Authorities are also working to convert heating systems to natural gas. In the short run, breathing in Tehran can be dangerous.

Photo by Hulivili.

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About The Author

Christie Erdman, a guest contributor to the Healthy Travel blog, is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond with a degree in Economics and Marketing. She enjoys traveling, and had the opportunity to spend a semester studying at Universita Bocconi in Milan, Italy during her junior year.

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