EghtesadOnline: Air Quality Index in Tehran on Tuesday hovered around 130, above the threshold of "unhealthy for sensitive groups", which has pushed authorities to take a further drastic measure to curb the smog.
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).
The index has breached the 100 threshold and in many areas in Tehran, toxic pollutants topped 150.
Tehran Governor General Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpay told ISNA on Tuesday that primary schools and kindergartens are to close on Wednesday in Tehran, Shahr-e-Rey, Pakdasht, Pishva, Varamin and Qarchak, according to Financial Tribune.
The density of toxic pollutants has been steadily increasing since the beginning of the current Iranian month (Oct. 23), reaching levels considered dangerous for vulnerable citizens, including children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory and cardiovascular problems, who are categorized in the group of sensitive people.
To encourage private vehicle users to switch to public transport, Mohammad Taqizadeh, the head of Air Pollution Emergency Committee, said bus and subway fares in the metropolis has been slashed by half until further notice.
When air pollution hits an emergency level, representatives from Tehran City Council, Traffic Police, Tehran Municipality, Tehran Governorate and Department of Environment, along with those of interior and health ministries, convene the committee to tackle the phenomenon.
He also announced that to reduce traffic in the central parts of the capital, charges paid by cars entering the zone demarcated by the Air Pollution Control scheme have been increased by 50%.
As per the scheme, each vehicle can enter a "restricted zone" in central Tehran for free for a maximum of 20 days each season, or 80 days a year. If motorists wish to enter the zone more than the number of times allowed in the plan, they need to pay a traffic toll fee.
Spread over 88.5 square kilometers in central Tehran, the zone is bounded by Imam Ali Expressway in the east, Navvab Expressway and Chamran Highway to the west, Besat Expressway in the south and Hemmat Expressway in the north.
Vehicles are barred from entering the area between 6:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on all days, except Fridays and national holidays. On Thursdays, the time limit is between 6:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Authorities have encouraged Tehran residents to avoid outdoor physical exercises, as the sprawling city experienced its eighth consecutive day of dangerously high air pollution levels.