The province of Tehran’s local officials made a belated decision to close kindergartens and elementary schools on Sunday morning to protect children from a thick smog of pollution hanging in the air.
“High school students should be prevented from outdoor physical activities … considering the ‘very unhealthy’ air quality index,” Abed Maleki, a senior member of the governor-general’s office, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
The overdue decision, announced at 8 am in the morning, triggered public backlash as parents scrambled to plan for their children’s day. It is not clear whether schools will be shut on Monday.
“The decision for tomorrow will be announced in coming hours after reviewing the air quality index,” Maleki pointed out.
Dusts and particles from sources inside and outside Iran have contributed to the pollution crisis as Tehran ranked first in worst air quality among major cities across the world on Sunday.
Data released by Tehran Air Quality Control Company showed that average PM2.5 readings, which are hazardous airborne particles, were at 201 micrograms per cubic meter, “very unhealthy” for all age groups.
Children, the elderly, and those suffering from respiratory illness should not leave home and everyone should refrain from long and high-intensity exercise outdoors in such conditions.
Head of the national center for forecast and management of crisis in air quality, Sadeq Ziayian, said the hazardous particles will linger in Tehran until Monday noon but the circumstances vary for different cities.
“Cities located in central Iran will experience this air quality over the next three days,” he said, adding that air quality in cities in western and southwestern Iran is set to exacerbate starting Tuesday.
Ziayian noted that the Iran Meteorological Organization had issued four warnings prior to Sunday, which were widely ignored by officials until they finally held a meeting on Sunday morning to close down schools.
Pointing to the ramifications of drought across the country, Ziayian said, “There’s been an over 27% drop in rains this year.”
Droughts play a huge role in creating new sources of dust and particles as deserts and degraded dry lands increase in number and square meter in areas near cities that subsequently increase pollutants in the air.
Air pollution episodes have surged in intensity and frequency in Iran and the Middle East as the effects of poor environmental policies and lack of investment on the issue start to reveal themselves.Schools Shut in Tehran Due to Air Pollution | Financial Tribune
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