The head of the Environmental and Sustainable Development Organization in Tehran says 45,000 Iranians die each year from complications caused by air pollution all across the country.

IRNA reports that Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh said over 1.5 million tons of emissions are released into Tehran’s atmosphere each year, confirming that: “Annually 45,000 individuals die in the country due to air pollution.”

At the eighth annual gathering of the Iranian Cancer Society, Heydarzadeh said 70 percent of cancer cases in Iran are linked to environmental and human-made causes.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution claims 1.3 million victims each year, and 65 percent of these deaths are in Asia.

In Iran, air pollution often reaches a critical state in the winter, causing a number of cities to shut down.

Tehran had to be shut down earlier this month, but the air quality control chief later announced that the strategy was not very effective, and long-term solutions to the problem of air pollution need to be implemented.

Heydarzadeh told the Iranian Cancer Society meeting that his organization has not been successful in making citizens and officials sensitive to the harmful and deadly nature of the emissions.