Air pollution poses yet another crisis for Iraq

As if Iraq didn’t have enough troubles, air pollution has hit alarming levels in the nation, exacerbating respiratory ailments among its citizens. War damage to the power grid has made state-produced electricity unpredictable, and reconstruction promises by the occu- uh, liberating forces have not panned out. Still, summer temperatures above 120 degrees render air conditioning a near-necessity, so tens of thousands of Iraqis run private home generators or plug in to neighborhood electric stations. Since the start of the war, the number of small gasoline-powered generators has increased 50-fold in Baghdad, where sitting in an air-conditioned home watching TV is a more attractive prospect for many than going out and risking death by suicide bomber. Baghdad’s air quality has further suffered from an influx of old, dirty cars. Elsewhere in Iraq, gas flare-offs from oil fields and smoky fires along sabotaged oil pipelines add to the haze.