Iran’s pollution: Worst in the world, poses a challenge to everyday life

The World Health Organization named the city of Ahvaz in western Iran the most polluted in the world in 2013

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Air pollution continues to pose an everyday challenge to Iranians as the low quality of air claimed the lives of almost 80,000 people in 2013 alone, Al Arabiya News Channel reported, citing Iranian health ministry statistics.

The World Health Organization named the city of Ahvaz in western Iran the most polluted in the world in 2013, while Tehran’s skyline is marred by thick smog during the winter months.

Four of the world’s most polluted cities are in Iran, which prompts a number of schools to stop classes in times of severe smog, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Watch Al Arabiya News Channel’s report on pollution in Iran

According to a 2010 New York Times report, the situation is worsened by petrochemical plants that were forced to switch to producing gasoline after the world’s top refineries cut off Iran’s imports following Western pressure over Iran’s nuclear program.

The report cites e-mails that were leaked to unofficial news sites and blogs, in which it was revealed that Iran’s production of domestic gasoline may contain high levels of aromatics, allegedly more than twice the level permitted under Iranian law.

Majid Rafizadeh, a U.S.-based commentator on Iranian affairs, said in “order to counter the sanctions, the Islamic Republic violates its own industry standards, codes, and constitution by producing lower-quality gasoline, using old equipment, and producing toxic materials for cheap petroleum.

“There exist no robust enforcing mechanism in order to implement codes related to clean air and industry standards,” he told Al Arabiya News.

In 2013, Ahvaz topped the list of the world’s 10 most polluted cities. Iranian cities Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Yasouj also made it on to the list.

Ahvaz is home to a sizeable ethnic Arab population, which government critics say are neglected by authorities.

“Being subjected to discrimination, the sizable Arab ethnic minority in Ahvaz do not have robust presence in Iran’s parliament or top governmental positions to protest against the environmental situation in Ahvaz,” Rafizadeh said.

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