There are fears of an imminent epidemic of asthma and other breathing problems among residents of the Ahwaz region due to rapidly deteriorating air quality, with large-scale burning of sugarcane fields following harvest adding to the already horrendous air pollution caused by dust storms and the burn-off from oilfields, as well as acid rain resulting from the toxic combination of all the above.
Hashem Baledi, the head of the regional crisis committee, has warned of a large-scale outbreak of asthma and other breathing difficulties due to the annual burning of thousands of hectares of stubble left after the harvesting of the sugarcane crop. This leads to further pollution of the atmosphere, which is already severely afflicted by severe dust storms and airborne pollution from oil fields across the Ahwaz region, where over 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by Iran are located. All of this, in turn, results in high levels of airborne nitrates causing acid rain, one more life-threatening evil afflicting people already enduring environmental catastrophe.
Baledi said that the Iranian regime should demand that the industries in the region, particularly the largest ones such as the oil and gas sector and the sugarcane growers and refiners controlled by the state, comply with health and safety regulations and international environmental protection laws by reducing their pollution emissions to acceptable levels. There are also some concerns have been raised by local education authoroties that this issue has reached aomng students as there are not adequate protection facilities provided in the Alahwaz schools.
The official further noted that although his department has regularly urged the sugarcane growers and refineries to avoid burning off the stubble left following the harvest in order to avert health crises, both have disregarded these warnings, with the resulting terrible effects on the health of the region’s population.
Many international health organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have classified Ahwaz as the world’s most polluted city due to the terrible air pollution caused by the oilfields, the dust storms (which are exacerbated by the desertification caused by the regime’s large-scale program of river-damming and diversion), and the annual burning of the sugarcane fields, and the resulting acid rain. The Iranian authorities have done nothing to rectify the problems, which are rapidly worsening, putting the lives of millions of Ahwazi Arabs at severe risk.