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Mass Iranian school and office closures due to air pollution

Offices and educational facilities in the Isfahan Province have now shuttered due to the toxic atmosphere in a move authorities across the world should not ignore. 

Iranian schools and government facilities have been temporarily closed down due to the high levels of air pollution recorded this week. 

On Tuesday 5th July, the Mehr news agency reported dangerously low air quality in the Isfahan Province – home to around 5million people – had led to the shuttering of countless addresses across 16 cities, forcing workers and pupils to stay at home, in turn having a significant impact on the economy, productivity and attainment. 

Elsewhere in the country, all offices in the southern Khuzestan Province were closed due to what the regional director general described as ‘the severe dust phenomenon’. This follows the shut down of universities, offices, and schools in the capital, Tehran, and its surrounding areas, alongside Alborz province. 

The increasing prevalence of droughts, poor water and soil management, and deforestation are adding to the pressures on Iranian air quality, which is already susceptible to intense dust storms. While this issue is unique to country’s with similar terrain and resources, the severity of the situation sends out a clear message to policymakers across the globe about the need to understand the relationship between land use, industrial activity, population density, and extreme air pollution incidents. 

In December 2021, schools in New Delhi, India, were closed as a result of air pollution. In the past, hundreds of educational sites in London were found to have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, while 98% of state-run schools in the UK capital are exceeding limits on PM2.5 – particulate matter which can include dust, and is considered to have the worst health implications of any pollutant. 

Image credit: Mostafa Meraji

 

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