Iran is grappling with a significant public health crisis as sandstorms continue to ravage the country, leaving more than 800 individuals hospitalised this week alone, reported Mezopotamya Agency, citing Iranian officials.
The sandstorms have caused respiratory and heart problems among the affected population. The relentless storms have been wreaking havoc in various cities, primarily in the southeastern Sistan and Baluchestan Province, since 23 June. Over a two-week period, a total of 2,024 people have been hospitalised and one fatality has been reported.
While sand and dust storms have been a natural occurrence in Iran and other Gulf countries during the hot months of May to July, their intensity and duration have escalated in recent years.
Environmentalists argue that this escalation is primarily a result of poor water management practices and the effects of global warming. Experts warn that rising temperatures and shifting climate patterns may exacerbate the situation, leading to even more severe sandstorms in the future.
As the impact of sandstorms intensifies, the health and well-being of the population remain at risk, and the long-term implications for the environment and the economy loom large.
Criticism is being directed towards the Iranian government for its perceived inaction in combating the increasing desertification and sandstorm risks in the region. Deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, urbanisation, dam construction, and water misuse are cited as key contributing factors.
Environmentalists and climate change experts argue that the government’s pursuit of non-ecological policies has further compounded the problem.
Scientist, activist, and former Iranian politician Kaveh Madani previously expressed disappointment over the lack of attention given to the dangers posed by sand and dust storms.
Madani, who had served as the Deputy Head of Iran’s Department of Environment, emphasised that this was a transboundary and transgenerational issue that is growing more perilous each year.
Madani thinks that the dangers posed by sand and dust storms have been overlooked by local and international governments for too long.