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Iran declares holiday over high air pollution

November 23, 2010

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TEHRAN, Iran—High air pollution has forced Iranian authorities to close offices and declare a one-day public holiday in the capital, Tehran.

State television says a government committee late Monday decided the pollution levels warranted the closure of all government and private offices, as well as schools and industries on Wednesday because of "polluted and unhealthy" weather.

The report says pollution levels rose earlier this week and are expected to peak on Wednesday. Thursday is a religious holiday in Iran, followed by the start of the Muslim weekend on Friday.

Critics say each holiday incurs about $130 million in financial losses.

Iran occasionally announces holidays and traffic restrictions over pollution. Health experts say many Iranians suffer from pollution related ailments.