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Iran says high UV radiation quadruples around Urmia Lake

TEHRAN, July 16, 2017 (BSS/Xinhua) - Ultraviolet (UV) radiation around Urmia Lake in northwest of Iran has quadrupled over the past 10 years, putting life health at risk, Financial Tribune daily reported on Sunday.

The increase in UV radiation, due to the decreasing water level, has a multitude of impacts on health including the result of cataract at its worst, Masoud Tajrishi, head of planning at the Urmia Lake Restoration Program was quoted as saying.

"There is also the risk of skin cancer if you spend too much time around the lake," Tajrishi warned.

The restoration program of the lake has so far focused on curbing the effects of dust and sand storms, he said, adding that "teams will be sent to villages around the lake to screen locals for the effects of UV radiation."

The chronic effects of UV can be serious, including premature aging of the skin, suppression of the immune system, damage to the eyes and skin cancer, and even life threatening.

The UV rays can also damage the eyes as more than 99 percent of radiation is absorbed by the front of the eyes. Corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration are all possible results from UV exposure and could lead to blindness.

The Urmia Lake area has more than tripled since 2013 when it was 700 square kilometers, but that is not enough to curtail the dangerous impact of UV exposure.

Urmia Lake's water level is expected to further drop since the temperature this summer is forecast to be around 1.8 degrees Celsius higher than last year.

Located between the Iranian provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Urmia Lake has been facing serious drought for years. Its severe water loss is attributed to climate changes, the long dry spell, unrestrained damming and irresponsible water use, especially in the agriculture sector.