Sunday February 25, 2024

‘Stay home’: Pollution chokes Iran’s capital

December 06, 2023

TEHRAN: Schoolchildren and some government employees in Tehran have been ordered to stay at home this week due to severe air pollution in the Iranian capital, a recurring phenomenon in autumn and winter.

The “red warning” for hazardous air quality extends beyond the capital, affecting major cities nationwide, including Ahvaz in the southwest, Isfahan in the centre, and Tabriz in the northwest.

In Tehran, a sprawling metropolis of about nine million people, kindergartens and schools have shuttered their doors since Sunday, transitioning to online classes.

A bird flies above buildings as smog covers Tehran on November 26, 2023.— AFP
A bird flies above buildings as smog covers Tehran on November 26, 2023.— AFP

The provincial governor´s office advises that people deemed “sensitive” -- such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women -- should refrain from outdoor activities and physical exercise. Azam Keyvan, a 40-year-old civil servant, laments, “The situation is horrible. My throat itches as soon as I go out into the street.” She adds that the challenging conditions have deprived her of the ability to exercise for several days.

“We can´t breathe anymore,” decries Saeed Sattari, a 42-year-old street vendor in Tehran who sells cooked meals. He bemoans the economic toll of the pollution, saying, “I´m going bankrupt” since people avoid going outside. The familiar pattern unfolds as colder weather set in: the clear blue sky at dawn slowly succumbs to thickening, yellowish smog that blankets the affected cities during the day, obscuring the view.