TEHRAN Heavy pollution shuts schools in Iran’s capital
TEHRAN shut schools yesterday as the first of the winter’s heavy pollution hit the Iranian capital.
A blanket of choking brown-white smog descended on the city, blocking out the view of the mountains that line its northern edge and leading many of its 14 million residents to retreat indoors or don face masks in the street.
The level of the deadliest PM2.5 particles hit 156 yesterday – more than three times the level considered safe by the World Health Organisation.
“Kindergartens and primary schools are closed on Monday in Tehran and most of the cities of the province,” the Ministry of Education announced.
Officials extended traffic restrictions that alternate cars with odd and even licence plates in two central parts of the city, and deployed ambulances to wait in the busiest and dirtiest areas.
Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf rode the metro to work in a bid to encourage people to use public transport.
Despite having around 100 stations, Mr Ghalibaf says the metro is not sufficiently funded by the central government, and Tehran has some of the world’s worst traffic congestion.
Pollution has become a political football in recent years, with conservatives and reformists blaming each other for the problem.
Hardliners regularly accuse the reformist vice-president Massoumeh Ebtekar, who heads the environmental protection organisation, of not doing enough.
The ultra-conservative daily Vatane Emrooz said yesterday that 70 percent of deaths in Tehran were linked to pollution.
The pollution has been building for six consecutive days and is expected to continue until tomorrow when forecasters hope winds will move the stagnant air. –