EghtesadOnline: More than 57% of the population of 80 million is affected by the impact of dust storms, secretary of the Technology Development Council of Water, Drought, Erosion and Environment said.
Referring to the 10 million hectares of deserts in the country, especially Khuzestan, that are among the major dust hotspots, Nader Qoli Ebrahimi said: “We support use of goods manufactured and technology prvided by domestic companies that help address this issue,” ISNA quoted him as saying.
Affiliated to the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology, the council was established in 2010 to help ease access to new technologies for comprehensive management of watersheds and aquifers and sustainable development of habitats and environmental protection.
It also aims at facilitate access to advanced techniques for wastewater treatment, reducing pollutants in water, soil and air, and acquiring technology for conservation, restoration, development and sustainable use of water, according to Financial Tribune.
Although many of Iran’s western regions are grappling with the plight of dust storms, the problem is more severe in Khuzestan Province as it is affected by both domestic and foreign sources of storms.
There are seven major sources of dust storm in Khuzestan, including Hour al-Azim, the area between Shalamcheh and Jafir, northeast and southeast of Ahvaz, Omidieh, Hendijan and Mahshahr.
Empty fields are common sources of dust storms because soil is exposed to wind. However, shrubs can help guard the soil, while trees act as natural barriers against dust and sand storms.
To control dust storms in oil-rich Khuzestan, the relevant organizations have planted saplings across 35,000 hectares and sprayed mulch across 10,000 hectares to prevent dust from being blown by winds from the northeast.
Mulching, which refers to applying a layer of material on the surface of soil, has long been used as a solution to prevent sand and dust storms in most countries.
The most common type used in Iran to control high-density particulate matter and fine dust spread in the air is petroleum-based mulch whose ecological impact is under debate.
Mulching domestic sources of dust storms have been carried out in six other provinces.
Petroleum-based mulch has long been used to cover the surface of potential sources of storms in Khuzestan, Isfahan, Yazd, Ilam, Hormozgan, Sistan-Baluchestan and some parts of Qom province.
Petroleum mulch is a byproduct of oil refining forms at the end of the production line. In the past, when refining technology was not advanced, it did not seem to be of much use and was often stored in ponds near refineries.
Later, it turned out that it can be used as mulch to control the spread of dust and sand particles.
Critics say the substance reeks, blackens the land and increases temperature leading to warm and stinky winds. Mulch also threatens flora and fauna in the area where it is used.
“We are struggling to replace petroleum mulch with bio-friendly mulch. Products have been manufactured to address this need and have been effective.”
Recently bio-mulch was synthesized by the National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and is reportedly able to stabilize the soil in dust storm hotspots with minimum ecological impact.
Besides increasing stability in soil and rocks, bio-mulch can delay erosion and decrease liquefaction in soil improvement projects. The substance is made of urea, calcium salt and a microbial solution, which is believed to be ecologically safe.
Irrespective of the fact that they are caused by human activities or climate change, dust storms have been causing immense difficulties for those living in the southwestern regions.