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'Smog holidays' cost Iran USD 130 million per holiday

We normally think about Beijing as the poster child for what happens when air pollution becomes unlivable. Apparently Tehran can join the list and act as an example of how unchecked industrialization can lead to the demise of an economic structure due to severe health complications. Although attempting novel approaches to combat the dangerous pollution levels, no long lasting truly affective methods seem possible or desirable.

“In 2010, the pollution became so severe that the government began the practice of issuing ‘smog holidays’, where government offices, schools, banks, factories and other sites were ordered to shut for the day. This has become the main method of dealing with the air pollution, and in 2010 Tehran has 80 smog holidays. This is resulting in a major financial hit to the city, as each smog holiday is estimated to cause USD130 million in financial losses in a country already gasping under a stumbling economy. In 2011, the number of smog holidays could potentially increase, especially in the fall weather and later half of the year, when air inversion is at the highest.

Another method of combating the growing pollution has been to drop thousands of litres of water from small planes across the city. Each plane carries approximately 2000 litres of water, and about 30 flights are done everyday, releasing about 60,000 litres of water. While this might provide temporary relief, it is not a sustainable method in the long term
as it will affect the countries water resources. The increasing pollution is also affecting animals and other wildlife in surrounding areas. Predators such as the Persian cheetah that dwell in the mountainous regions are in trouble, along with other endemic species.”


The increased pollution associated with rapid or heavy industrialization and poor geographical location (Tehran being surrounded on 3 sides by mountains doesn't have much airflow) is causing a whole new set of issues for poor communities. Ranging from reverse migration out of the urban center to counteracting the increased GDP growth associated with pollution causing industries by way of extreme levels of health issues and the shutting down of industry through 'smog holidays.'

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Strategic Foresight Group_Middle East Monitor, June 2011, pgs 11-12:

Persian Paradox. Massoumeh Ebtekar Official Blog.

“The Smoggiest of All Capitals” The Economist Online. 29, December 2010.

“Pollution hit Tehran Sprayed with Water”. Press TV. 7 December, 2010.

“Tehran Air Pollution Keeps Capital Shut Down”. The Huffington Post. 2 December 2010.