Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Warnings Resumed: Unsafe Air Quality in Tehran

The government has resumed its warnings about unsafe levels of “particulates” in the air in Tehran as the city’s air pollution has made a comeback after few days of relative ease following a rainfall. Tehran’s air quality is reclassified as dangerous to public health.

The environmentalists blame the recent production of low-quality gasoline for the air quality crisis. The government has started a crash program at the country’s petrochemical plants to produce maximum amount of gasoline to counter sanctions against the sale of gasoline to Iran. The new supply of domestic gasoline is thought to contain high levels of aromatics. Burning aromatics in car engines reportedly produces exhaust packed with high concentrations of “floating particles” or “particulates.”

The government denies that the new supply of the gasoline is the culprit. It maintains that the new supplies of gasoline meet all international standards.

Photo: AP, 21 December 2010


reader said...

It is about time that government comes clean over this saga and tells the people the truth with respect and humility. My guess is that in order to mitigate the shortage of fuel they hastily produced sub-standard fuels. As far as I know there was no exceptional meteorological condition to explain the severity of the prevailing air pollution situation.

Amir Taheri said...

My thought here is if its due to substandard fuel, why did it not show up August, September, October, and in November? That is when Iran started the local production of gasoline.

Anonymous said...

This is the zionists fault, they are causing this problem by tampering with the climate.

We will defeat them soon enough!

Go Iran Go

Anonymous said...

Indeed this must be the fault of the Zionists. I don't know why or how they did this, but after a few more drinks, I'm sure I will come up with some really good reasons!

Paul said...

Tehran's air pollution is a complicated issue.

First, it's reported that Iran plans to process benzene to produce gasoline:

July 2010:

Now, in Iran there is usually a large gap between a "plan" and actual "implementation". So the first question to answer is, are we using benzene to produce gas or not? If we are, what percentage of domestic gas use by cars, is gas produced from benzene?

See for example:

"... the country was not using any benzene in the gasoline pool".

Another issue is use of MTBE in some Iranian gas, which has been banned in some states in the US:


The concern here with MTBE is mostly water contamination, not air. However it needs to be addressed.

I am sure that if we produce low quality fuel, the air pollution can be partially blamed on that. But I don't think we can fully blame air pollution on this. The main reason for pollution past few weeks has been an inversion layer in Tehran, which happens more often and more severely in cold months.


This inversion layer traps a lot of the smoke and gases produced by cars, pushes its concentration level high, and causes health problems.

Also Tehran's geographic location hurts us. Similar to the Los Angeles area in some ways (mountain to North, prevent moisture and winds from cleaning up the air).

My 2 cents ... situation is more complicated than just bad fuel. Tehran also has lots of industrial units putting smoke in the air, a refinery, ... under these conditions even if we had clean gas we'd get pollution. Only solution is cleaner gas and reduction in use.

Anonymous said...

it is not quality defficency of fuel.
Its simply the geographical situation of Tehran and its never ending growth of Car numbers.

China has the same problem,
as always when it comes to Iran according to some.... "Morghe hamsaye ghaze"

Dariush London