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Photographer's Note

When I visited Tehran for the first time in September 2002, I read up all I could about the city in my Lonely Planet guidebook. The introductory paragraphs were not encouraging. They read:

“Sadly, there’s no longer the slightest whiff of the Orient about the Iranian capital. Pollution, chronic overcrowding and a lack of responsible planning have conspired to turn Tehran into a metropolis you’re best getting into and out of as soon as possible. The heavy smog, which hovers ominously over the city, blocks out the views of the mountains for much of the time. At certain times of the year, especially in summer, it descends with unbearable effect and drives people out of Tehran in coughing, wheezing droves, whiles the radio warns those with heart conditions not to leave their houses. In summer one breath is all it takes to absorb the full horror of Tehran’s toxin-laden air. Nearly 40% of all transport is in small cars, mainly Paykans, which pump more than 50 million tonnes of carbonated gases, including 1.3 million tonnes of carbon monoxide, into the air every year. In Tehran alone vehicles use up 10 million tonnes of fossil fuels each year and it’s getting worse. If the pollution starts to hurt your throat, or you have asthma, it may be best to head for the hills”.

I thought that as I was visiting at the end of summer, perhaps the smog wouldn’t be too bad, but as my flight descended over the vast metropolis that is home to over 12 million people, there it was – a thick layer of brown smog hanging over the city - just as my guidebook had described it.

Once on the ground it wasn’t quite as bad as the guidebook had described (I’ve experienced worse in Malaysia – see my other ‘pollution pic’ here) but maybe that was because it was September.

PP: Adjusted levels and sharpened.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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