Thick smog over Tehran on February 5, 2018.

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Schools closed Wednesday for third day straight

Traffic restrictions in place to improve air quality

CNN  — 

Schools will be closed for the third day straight on Wednesday in parts of Tehran, as severe air pollution continues to blanket the Iranian capital, according to the state-run Press TV. Schools will also be closed in the neighboring Alborz province.

A thick haze with dangerous pollution levels has covered Tehran since Monday, obscuring the city’s skyline and prominent landmarks. Authorities also implemented traffic restrictions in an effort to improve air quality.

President Hassan Rouhani addressed the issue this week, saying Iranians “cannot be indifferent to the problem,” the government’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

“The Iranian government attaches great importance to the question of environment,” Rouhani said at a press conference in Tehran. “All of us are responsible to the issues related to environment.”

An Iranian woman wearing a face mask waits at a bus stop as heavy pollution hit new highs in Tehran on February 5, 2018.  (Photo credit:  ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, Deputy Health Minister Ali Reza Raeisi announced that 20,000 Iranians die every year from ailments related to air pollution, according to IRNA.

Tehran is especially susceptible to trapped smog, as the metropolitan area, home to over 8 million people, is surrounded by mountains.

Just last month, elementary schools in Tehran were forced to close due to dangerous pollution, state media reported.

Environmental concerns across the country have become significant issues for the nation’s top leaders. Earlier this year, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei authorized the allotment of $150 million to tackle pollution in the heavily industrial province of Khuzestan, Press TV reported.