Air pollution has left close to 5,000 dead since March 2011, according to Iranian health officials, as pollution forced the city to close completely over the weekend. Iran’s state radio claimed going outside “could be tantamount to ‘suicide,’” according to the New York Times. The World Health Organization ranks three of Iran’s provincial towns as the world’s top 10 polluted cities.
There are a number reasons behind Tehran’s terrible pollution problem, in a city that experienced fewer than 150 “healthy days” in 2011: High traffic from 5.5 million vehicles, combined with low-grade petrol, create a deadlier dose of carbon pollution and carcinogens.
Worldwide, pollution is a major public health problem, posing a greater danger than high cholesterol for millions.
Major cities in the U.S. have lower — and considerably less deadly — levels of pollution, but that is not without smart new steps that help save tens of thousands of additional lives. However, Republicans still routinely seek to roll back standards proven to protect the air we breathe, from attacking new mercury standards for coal-fired power plants to opposing fuel efficiency standards that lower vehicles’ carbon emissions.