It’s Official- Iran Has The Most Polluted Cities In The World

pollution-city-tehran-iran-whoAccording to a report by the World Health Organisation, Iranian cities are the world’s most polluted with some cities registering air pollution 20 times over the recommended upper limit

Iran is certainly not scoring a lot of ‘greenie’ points this month. First it hits international headlines for its brutal treatment of environmental activists campaigning to save an endangered salt lake and now they have been highlighted as having the world’s most polluted cities. And that’s if we ignore the whole nuclear power issue and the debacle over the recently freed US hikers accused of being spies. The WHO global survey on fine particle pollutants is the first of its kind and found that cities in Iran were amongst the worst on the planet for air pollution.

High Air Pollution & Traffic Fatalities

News of Iran’s poor air quality in cities won’t come as a big surprise to the residents living in the smoggy and noisy cities who have been complaining about these issues for years. Poor public transport and a traffic fatalities rate five times the world average paints a pretty clear picture of the reason behind the pollution – cars.

The WHO report found that the Iranian city of Ahvaz had the highest measured level of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometres. The recommended upper limit for these particles set by the WHO is 20 micrograms per cubic metre- in Ahvas the annual average was a substantial 372 micrograms per cubic metre which is 19 times over the limit. Another Iranian city, Sanandaj had 254 micrograms per cubic metre.

1.34 Million Premature Deaths Per Year

The WHO report is based on data provided by the country over the years and measured the level of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometres in almost 1,100 cities. India, Pakistan and Mongolia were also amongst the worst for pollution in cities whilst Canadian and American cities had some of the best scores. For example, Washington has a score of just 18 micrograms per cubic metre of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometres.

The WHO estimated that around 1.34 million premature deaths occur every year due to outdoor air pollution. It added that proper investment to reduce air pollution would quickly pay off as it would lower disease rates and therefore healthcare costs. In Tehran alone, it is believed that 27 people a day die from air pollution. WHO pointed to rapid industrailsation, use of poor quality fuels for transport and electricity generation as the reasons behind high air pollution.


: Image via Iman Khalil/flickr.

For more on Iran and pollution see:

Tehran Residents Complain About Air Pollution And Water Quality

Esfahan Is Almost As Polluted As Tehran

High Wast Generation And Low Recycling In Iran

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2 thoughts on “It’s Official- Iran Has The Most Polluted Cities In The World”

  1. Aviva Weisgal says:

    Ishac, that’s very interesting. It had not occurred to me to think about the environmental impacts of sanctions. But I guess falling behind on the sustainable times is one visible consequence. Do you think there is a willingness among the government to come up to speed if sanctions were lifted?

  2. Ishac says:

    To be fair, Iran is under sanctions and is banned from importing everything from clean cars to energy efficient machinary. Granted part of the problem is lack of government foresight in regards to town planning. But if there were no economic sanctions on the import and export of cars and industrial machinery then the problem would be far less. Lift sanctions and Iran can become one of the greenest in the middle east. The major problem with the Iranian infrastructure is the lack of sewage system in most cities. Waste water goes into sespits and remains there which is a shame as the country is quite arid.

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