DUBAI - Iran's state-owned oil refining company denied on Wednesday that poor quality, domestically-produced fuel is contributing to Tehran's worsening pollution crisis, saying that its gasoline met refining standards.
Thick yellow smog has shrouded the Iranian capital for most of the past week, prompting the closure of government offices, banks and schools for several days and official calls for residents to leave the city or remain indoors.
The recent increase in smog is blamed by many on domestically produced fuel, the English-language Tehran Times reported this week, asserting that Iran's car manufacturers continue to produce cars with inefficient combustion systems.
In response, the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company said in a statement: "The increase in the rate of air pollution in large cities in Iran has not been caused by products from (Iran's petrochemical producers)."
Earlier this week, a health ministry adviser, Hassan Aghajani, appeared on national television saying that over the past 10 days there had been a 30 percent increase in hospital admissions in Tehran caused by people with breathing problems. Aghajani said more than 4,000 people had died from the effects of air pollution in the 12 months from March 2011.