News ID: 153450
Published: 0715 GMT June 18, 2016

DoE: Syria, Iraq sources of dust pollution

DoE:  Syria, Iraq sources of dust pollution

Head of Iran’s Department of the Environment (DoE) Masoumeh Ebtekar said that the sources of dust and haze pollution that has hit the country's western and southwestern provinces in recent days are Iraq and Syria.

On her Instagram page, expressing her disappointment, Ebtekar said according to online maps, the dust particles that have blanketed vast areas of western and southern Iran, including Ilam, Kermanshah and Khuzestan provinces, are coming from Iraq and Syria, IRNA reported.

She added that Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia have always been sources of dust storms and this is not a new phenomenon.

However, the official said, in recent years, due to consecutive droughts, rising temperatures and global warming, as well as war and conflicts in these areas, dust storms have multiplied.

Ebtekar also said this problem can be resolved through various measures like soil stabilization and planting trees once conflicts in Iraq and Syria are over.


Mideast storms


BBC on Friday quoted United Nations scientists as saying that the Middle East has been the worst hit by significant rise in sand and dust storms.

Iran and Kuwait are the most affected countries, largely because of sand and dust blowing in from Syria and Iraq.

Mismanagement of land and water amid conflicts in the region has been a key factor, as well as climate change.

Meteorologists say sand and dust storms are also happening in new places like some parts of Central Asia.

"In the Middle East there has been a significant increase in the frequency and the intensity of sand and dust storms in the past 15 years or so," said Enric Terradellas a meteorologist with the World Meteorology Organization's sand and dust storm prediction center for the region.

"One of the main sources of sand and dust storms is Iraq, where the flow of rivers has decreased because of a race in dam constructions in upstream countries.

"That has led to the disappearance of marshes and drying up of lakes both in Iraq and Iran, and the sediments left behind are very important sources of dust in the region."

Iranian residents in the western and southwestern provinces that border Iraq are facing a growing trend in the influx of fine particles, which are generated by drought-hit marshlands in neighboring countries.

The disruptive dust storms have pushed pollution in those border areas to alarming levels, raising health concerns.

The particles, carried by winds, can penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing serious diseases such as lung cancer, asthma and heart problems.


 ‘Dangerous’ levels


A senior environmental official said Saturday that the air pollution in the western provinces, including Lorestan, has reached “dangerous” levels, Tasnim News Agency reported on Saturday.

Air conditions are very dangerous in Lorestan Province and its air pollution levels have risen to 29 times the limits, Mehrdad Fat’hi Beyranvand, the head of the DoE of the province said.

The official added that the dust and particles causing the pollution entered Lorestan after passing western provinces of Khuzestan, Ilam and Kermanshah.

Also a number of flights were canceled on Friday in the southwestern city of Abadan in Khuzestan Province due to the poor visibility caused by increased dust in the air, IRNA reported

Dust pollution is also blanketing other provinces of the country, including Tehran.

The storms began last Thursday and the authorities expect the situation to improve in the coming days.

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