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Iran Environmental Chief Says Babies Dying Of Air Pollution

Iran Air Pollution -- An Iranian woman wears a mask to help guard against dangerous levels of air pollution in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019.

The head of the Islamic Republic Department of Environment (DoE) disclosed on Thursday, January 2, that the number of under-one-year-old babies dying of air pollution in Iran is six times more than the one in the neighboring Turkey.

Speaking to a gathering in Iran's second-largest city, Mashhad, northeast Iran, Isa Kalantari admitted that the hazard of air pollution had forced authorities recently to close schools for twelve days.

"Currently, 73% of the buses, 60% of the trucks, 87% of minibuses, and 81% of motorbikes in Iran are old and dilapidated," the DoE head asserted, adding, "Air pollution produced by each motorbike in Iran is equal to the contamination made by eight locally made 'Samand' sedans. Therefore, how could we expect having clean air in the country?" the state-run Young Journalists Club (YJC) news website cited Kalantari as demanding.

Based on the Islamic Republic's official data, out of 33 million vehicles in Iran, 11.6 million or 35% of the total are motorbikes with more than 21% concentrated in the Iranian capital city, Tehran.

Earlier last month, a member of the board of directors of Motorbikes Manufacturers, Abolfazl Hejazi, had revealed that most of Tehran's air pollution was produced by old motorbikes kept at garages to be scrapped, but later sold in auctions at low prices.

Without elaboration, Hejazi maintained that old and broken-down motorbikes confiscated by the police are handed over to a department for scrappage, but later sold under the hammer.

"These motorbikes are defunct and should be scrapped," Hejazi said, adding, "We have data on malfunctioning motorbikes confiscated by police on three occasions, but re-sold later."