EghtesadOnline: The residents of Iranian capital breathed in more toxic particles in September, as air quality deteriorated slightly compared with the corresponding month of last year, data released by Tehran Air Quality Control Company show.
Charts published on TAQCC’s website, Airnow.tehran.ir, show that in September, Tehran’s residents were exposed to more polluted air.
This situation is expected to continue, as Iranian officials fail to take action against the production of highly polluting and substandard cars, one of the main sources of air pollution in Iranian metropolises.
Clear blue skies were not to be seen at all, as the air quality index did not improve during the period, Financial Tribune reported.
The index categorizes conditions dictated by a measure of polluting matters into good (0-50), moderate (51-100), unhealthy for sensitive groups (101-150), unhealthy (151-200), very unhealthy (201-300) and hazardous (301-500).
TAQCC data show that in September, "moderate" status was the dominant air condition, as the index hovered between 51 and 100 on 27 days.
Besides, sensitive groups in the capital were warned to limit their outdoor activities in the remaining three days, as the index entered the threshold of 101-150 that categorizes the condition as “unhealthy for sensitive groups”.
Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions fall in the above group.
Pollutants measured to determine air quality include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10). AQI figures are calculated as per the concentration of pollutants.
Analyses illustrate that the pollutants responsible for the three moderate days recorded in the period under investigation were PM2.5 and PM10 (atmospheric particulate matters that have a diameter of less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers respectively).
Past Three Years
TAQCC figures indicate a highly variable air quality of the metropolis in the past few years.
September 2018 has a more satisfying resume, as sensitive residents were not warned to limit their outdoor exertion at all, for the index did not exceed the threshold of 101, which indicates “unhealthy” condition for the group.
“Moderate” air quality was recorded for 29 days in the month, with AQI standing between 51 and 100. Bright blue skies appeared for one day, with the index remaining between 0 and 50, which indicates a "good" status.
A glance at the same period in 2017 shows the fluctuation in air quality conditions year-on-year.
In September 2017, the traffic-congested metropolis saw no days with good air. “moderate” air quality was the most prevalent condition, for the index stood between 51 and 100 for 29 days.
The remaining single day of the month faced air pollution that forced sensitive groups indoors for four days, with AQI standing between 101 and 150.
Ground-level ozone was responsible for the high AQI on one day with "unhealthy" air quality for the sensitive groups.
The AQI status remains the same when looking at the data related to September 2016.
At that time, people breathed in "moderate" condition for 29 days and one day was recorded as "unhealthy" for sensitive groups due to the high concentration of PM2.5 and PM10.
Poor air quality has long troubled all urban residents in Iran, causing over 12,000 pollution-related deaths in the fiscal 2016-17.
Recently, an official with the Department of Environment told the media that air pollution annually costs Tehran residents $2.6 billion, which implies that air pollution inflicts a loss of $300 on each resident of the capital.
Around the world, low quality vehicles have always been one of the major factors contributing to the air pollution, especially in crowded metropolises.
Iranian experts also attribute the environmental and health damages of air pollution to the lack of high-quality catalyst converters in vehicles, the polluting carbureted-powered motorcycles plying the streets and generally, the low quality of domestically-made cars.
Debates over eliminating substandard vehicles from the list of domestic auto production have continued since a long time.
In mid-September, however, General Kamal Hadianfar, Iran’s Traffic Police chief, announced that the production line of substandard and costly passenger vehicles, including SAIPA’s small car Pride, will be disbanded within six months.
Pride was originally developed for Japanese and South Korean markets in the late 1980s. The car was widely sold in the United States as a Ford Festiva in the early 1990s. It entered the Iranian market in 1993 under license from Kia and has continued to be a cash cow for SAIPA.
As per reports by the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran, the national body in charge of inspecting vehicle quality, Pride suffers from low quality and several safety failures. The car never earned more than one star in the organization’s five-star ranking system.
Three years ago, ISIRI and Iran’s Automotive Policymaking Council set new automotive standards and gave a two-year ultimatum to automakers to comply.
The production of vehicles that fail to comply with 83 automotive standards was to be halted shortly.
SAIPA's Pride and Iran Khodro’s Peugeot 405 topped the notorious list of substandard vehicles.
However, when the deadline drew closer, carmakers started protesting about “the sudden imposition of stringent rules”.
Carmakers complained that if the new standards are imposed, they will be forced to shut down 70% of their production lines and lay off thousands of workers.
Despite the growing criticisms from environmentalists and the public against Pride production, former CEO of SAIPA, Mehdi Jamali, maintained that the production of the model will continue “as long as there is demand for the model”.
Finally, SAIPA’s latest decision prevailed and this only added to the country’s air pollution woes.
Car pollution has been blamed for 49% of air pollution. As long as authorities lack the determination to streamline the automotive sector, air pollution is here to stay nationwide in the foreseeable future.