Crackdown On Pollution Clears The Air In Tehran

Tehran is the capital city of Iran.  Home to 12 million people, it is also Iran’s largest city.  Tehran lies at the foot of the surrounding Alborz Mountains, at an elevation of 1200m (3900 feet), which provides a nice environment for air pollution to linger. 

As one of the world’s most polluted cities, Tehran’s level of air pollution exceeded the World Health Organization standards by 40 to 340%, the air was brown, people wore masks, schools were regularly closed and at one point, all residents were advised to stay inside due to carbon monoxide having hit emergency levels. 

“An official Energy-Environment Review Policy Note estimated health damage from air pollution in Iran at over $7 billion in 2001, more than 8% of the nominal gross domestic product that year. A 2005 report by Tehran University found that rising carbon monoxide levels were contributing to heart failure, the leading cause of death in Iran.” 

However, according to this article from the Los Angeles Times, Tehran has noticed some much needed changes to the quality of air that fills their lungs.  Levels of pollution have declined, although the changes most noticeable to residents are what they see (or don’t see) and how they feel. 

Tehran introduced several changes, which seemed to have made quite an impact.  Rationing of gasoline, control of peak-hour traffic, older cars, taxis and buses have been converted to natural gas or hybrid engines (250,000 in the last 3 years), while some old cars have been banned altogether.


Although the scientific facts and figures are not noted, it’s good to see that Tehran’s anti-pollution efforts can be seen and felt by the residents.  I think they’ve done a great job, and with a view like that of the surrounding mountains, I’d want to be able to see it too!

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Sofia Lockhart

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