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EghtesadOnline: The government has allocated 400 billion rials ($3.4 million) to curb the growing air pollution and smog in the metropolis of Isfahan in central Iran, the head of Isfahan Disaster Management Organization said.

According to Mansour Shisheh-Foroush, long talks have been held with urban managers and state administrators over the deteriorating air quality in the megacity, especially during the cold months of the year, Mehr News Agency reported.

"As a result, remedial policies have been devised and communicated to executive units that are expected to take action shortly after receiving the funds," he added.

Shisheh-Foroush said the city needs immediate action for curbing air pollution, according to Financial Tribune.

Air quality control stations in Isfahan predict and report emergency air pollution conditions in advance and help DMO to control the critical situation. 

"Medical centers will soon be equipped with health aid packages to be distributed among vulnerable people under emergency air quality conditions," he said.

Experts mostly blame the situation on mismanagement, lack of an integrated air pollution reduction scheme, polluting industrial activities and smog-inducing and gas-guzzling vehicles.

Isfahan Province is one of the main industrial hubs in Iran. For long, environmentalists have complained that factories in and around the province largely disregard environmental standards.

Shisheh-Foroush noted that highly-polluting industrial factories are required to limit their operations during the polluted days.



Air Quality Index

The Department of Environment, which monitors air quality in the province and the city and delivers data related to Air Quality Index, shows that in the past two months, people in Isfahan did not breathe clean air for even a single day.

Based on a number of polluting factors, the index categorizes conditions into good (0-50), moderate (51-100), unhealthy for sensitive groups (101-150), unhealthy (151-200), very unhealthy (201-300) and hazardous (301-500).

Charts show that in the past 55 days in Isfahan, AQI has hovered between 51 and 100 for only eight days, which indicate "moderate" air quality.

According to DOE, the sensitive group has been warned to limit their outdoor activities too often, for the index remained high at101 to 150 for a worrying 46 days. 

Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory and cardiovascular problems belong to the sensitive group.

On Sept. 21, AQI increased and reached the threshold of "unhealthy" condition for all groups.

In the autumn of last year, when the extremely poor air quality had raised serious concerns among environmentalists and some officials, Shisheh-Foroush had censured authorities for their negligence. 

He called on the people and officialdom to take immediate action, stressing that “there is no excuse for this disastrous inaction”.

“The compliance of industrial centers, energy plants, public transportation system and fuel suppliers with environmental standards must be strictly upheld and monitored,” he said.

Lamenting that even people do not care about the environment, Shisheh-Foroush called on Isfahan’s residents to favor less polluting means of transportation over personal cars.



Environmental Distress

Located in the arid region of Iran's central plateau, the province receives less than the minimum precipitation.

Isfahan has been struggling with drought for many years, which has resulted in the drying up of the famous Zayandehroud river. This, in turn, has led to a drought in Gavkhouni Wetland, where Zayandehroud ends, and other environmental crises in the region.

Arid lands are potential sources of sandstorms that rise with the slightest wind and dim the sky, adding to the suffocating emissions released by vehicles and industrial units. 

Poor air quality has long been a cause of great distress in most Iranian metropolises, causing over 12,000 pollution-relation deaths in the fiscal ending March 2017, the Health Ministry reported.


Iran Isfahan air pollution government Smog Ease