Over the past six days, polluted air in the country sent 13,931 people to hospitals and medical centers due to heart and respiratory problems, Mojtaba Khaledi, Emergency Medical Services Organization spokesman has said.
Due to air pollution and increased particulate matters in provinces of Isfahan, Alborz, Tehran, Markazi, Qazvin, Qom, East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Khuzestan, and Yazd, 13,931 people referred to hospital emergency services throughout the country, of whom 8,547 were cardiac patients and 5,384 were respiratory patients, he explained.
He went on to add that 931 people also received pre-hospital emergency services, IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday.
Khaledi also stated that Tehran had the highest number of patients as a result of pollution, as 6,852 citizens referred to emergency medical centers and hospitals, of whom 4,219 were suffering from cardiac problems and 2,633 from respiratory problems.
Polluted air also resulted in the closure of schools and universities for five days.
Tehran air quality index (AQI) reached an unhealthy level of pollution for 57 days since the beginning of this year (March 21), according to a report published by the Tehran Air Quality Control Company.
An AQI is used to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become.
The index categorizes conditions according to a measure of polluting matters into excellent (0-50), good (51-100), lightly polluted or unhealthy for sensitive groups (101-150), moderately polluted (151-200), heavily polluted (201-300) and severely polluted (301-500).
Some of the air control stations in the capital exceeded the 210 level, including the southern city of Shar-e Rey and the southwestern city of Shadabad.
During the aforementioned period, heavily polluted air haunted the capital for 4 days which was almost dangerous for all the residents.
This is while, last year over the same period 42 days were unhealthy for sensitive groups, and Tehraners did not breathe a single day of heavily polluted air.
The leading cause of air pollution in the capital is PM 2.5, PM 10 and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
Some 4,000 to 5,000 Tehrani citizens die each year from direct exposure to PM emissions, and air pollution brings Iran a loss of over $2.6 billion per year, or about $2,000 a day.
Tehran’s air pollution mitigation needs $4 billion
The Municipality of Tehran prepared a comprehensive plan to mitigate air pollution in the metropolis, based on which a total budget of 174 trillion rials (nearly $4 billion) is required over the course of four years.
The plan focuses on reducing particulate matter and the concentration of PM 2.5, so it reduces primary PM sources and secondary precursors like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
It was envisaged that primary PM sources will be reduced by 55 percent and secondary precursors by 45 percent.
The plan claims that the main reasons behind air pollution intensification in the capital are lack of clean and cheap public transport, overcrowded transport fleet, poor quality vehicles, extremely old public transportation fleet, and poor urban development policies.