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Iran, Iraq to control sand haze

8 August 2010 11:31

Iranian and Iraqi officials are to initiate a joint program to control the critical situation caused by the Arabian dust haze that strikes western Iran every summer.

Western Iran is often struck by dust storms in the summer, which blow from the deserts of Iraq.

During sandstorms, the dust in the atmosphere and consequent haze become 17 times more than the standard level, interrupting activity in the stricken area.

Last summer, particulate concentration in Iran’s western provinces was measured at 2,500 micrograms per cubic meter, meaning it was 17 times higher than the standard level of 150 micrograms per cubic meter.

During such times, visibility in some districts decreases to 50 meters, making it almost impossible to see anything.

This year, Iranian officials decided to cooperate with their Iraqi counterparts to solve the problem.

Efforts include combating desertification, providing a database of plant ground cover in the region, and covering the ground soil with mulch — a substance containing heavy hydrocarbons to build a protective covering on the ground and prevent it from blowing away.

Iranian researchers’ studies have found silicon dioxide, calcium, potassium, carbon, and other elements in the haze, which could damage the respiratory system of those breathing the air.

The dangers such pollution has posed to human respiratory and cardiac systems have prompted Iranian officials to close schools, universities and offices in order to encourage people to remain at home.

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