EghtesadOnline: Tehran’s residents experienced a more stable air condition during October after being exposed to hazardous emissions in early fall, mostly due to traffic congestion coinciding with the opening of schools in late September.
Charts regularly published by Tehran Air Quality Control Company show that all through October, Air Quality Index hovered between 51 and 100, showing the predominance of "moderate" status.
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).
In the last three days of September, AQI crossed 101 and entered the threshold of "unhealthy" conditions for sensitive groups, Financial Tribune reported.
Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions fall in the above group.
Comparative Air Quality
AQI did not fluctuate much during October, as it was the case in the corresponding month of last year.
In October 2018, "moderate" status were recorded for 27 days and on the remaining three days, Tehran’s skies were blue with the index standing lower than 50, showing a "good" status.
A year earlier in 2017, October began with one day of "good" air quality and continued with 22 "moderate" days. On the remaining days, the sensitive group was warned to limit their outdoor activities, as the AQI was "unhealthy" for the vulnerable sections of the society.
In October 2016, the sensitive group of people was asked to remain at home for four days. The rest of the month passed with the AQI showing "moderate" status.
Pollutants most frequently responsible for the "unhealthy" days for sensitive groups were PM2.5 and carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 (atmospheric particulate matters that have a diameter of less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers respectively) are measured to determine air quality.
AQI figures are calculated as per the concentration of pollutants.
Risks and Measures
Poor air quality has long troubled all urban residents of 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’s residents $2.6 billion, which imply that air pollution inflicts a loss of $300 on each resident.
Seemingly, air quality condition is improving slightly in Tehran. This could either be because of the Nature's help or ameliorative measures introduced by municipal bodies.
One of the measures is the air pollution reduction scheme implemented in the metropolis since November 2018.
As per the scheme, dilapidated vehicles are banned from the roads and violators are fined.
All two- and four-wheelers must undergo mandatory technical inspections and acquire conformity cards showing that the vehicles are roadworthy.
According to Tehran’s Traffic Police, toxic emissions released by four-wheelers are blamed for 49% of air pollution in the capital.
Low Quality Vehicles
Across the world, low quality vehicles have always been one of the major contributors of 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.
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 expected to prevail nationwide in the foreseeable future.