Air pollution levels are above critical in many parts of Iran, which is disastrous to those with respiratory issues, at a time when the government is failing to control the infectious respiratory pandemic, known as coronavirus.
In Tehran, the air pollution index was more than 200 in some areas on Thursday, but it was also dangerously high in ten other cities, including Arak, Qazvin, Isfahan, Ahvaz, Mashhad, Tabriz, Zanjan, Karaj, Urmia, and Qom.
But why is air pollution so high? It’s a mixture of deteriorating weather conditions and the use of “mazut fuel instead of gas in power plants and factories”, according to Abbas Shahsoni, head of the Health Ministry’s Department of Air Health and Climate Change, and Mohammad Mehdi Mirzaei, head of the National Centre for Air and Climate Change of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The head of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences’ Air Pollution Research Centre advised that around 40,000 people die every year in Iran because of exposure to “particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in the air”.
And, if you were expecting the Iranian regime to do something about this, you need only look at their response to the coronavirus, which was to make big promises and do very little. In fact, Tehran’s governor actually denied that mazut fuel was being used at all, but the Arman daily pointed out that it is public knowledge that the country has burned it for years.
In fact, following a 2017 report, the Iranian people protested over its use because of air pollution, and the regime was forced to ban its use. Sadly, the law was never implemented, as the state-run Setareh-Sobh explained.
They wrote: “The question is why is the clean air law that has been passed and promulgated not being implemented to prevent the death of more than 40,000 Iranians annually due to air pollution? In the current situation, while facing Covid-19, air pollution may increase the prevalence of the disease by 10 to 15 percent, so authorities should take the necessary measures to reduce air pollution.”
But the deadly fuel is used in factories and power plants linked to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), so the regime is putting their economic prospects above the health of all people. Not only that but, as with the coronavirus, they may be using the air pollution risk to quell the protest-ready society.
“The international community should intervene and pressure the regime to halt its activities, which add to Iran’s pollution crisis, which coupled with the Covid-19 crisis could rapidly increase the number of Covid-19 fatalities, which is approaching 200,000,” the Iranian Resistance wrote.