Ultraviolet radiation around Urmia Lake has increased four-fold over the past 10 years due to the decreasing water level, according to an official at the Urmia Lake Restoration Program.
The harmful effects from exposure to ultraviolet radiation can be classified from acute to chronic. The acute effects of UV exposure are both short-lived and reversible. The chronic effects can be serious, even life threatening, and include premature aging of the skin, suppression of the immune system, damage the eyes and cause skin cancer.
UV rays can also damage the eyes as more than 99% of radiation is absorbed by the front of the eyes. Corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration are all possible chronic effects from UV exposure and could lead to blindness.
Urmia Lake’s water level is expected to drop as the mercury rises in the hot seasons. This summer is forecast to be around 1.8 degrees Celsius warmer than last year.
The lake’s area has more than tripled since 2013—when the ULRP was formed— from 700 to 2,500 square kilometers, but that’s not enough to curtail the dangerous impact of UV exposure.
Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Urmia Lake has been facing serious drought for years. Its severe water loss is attributed to climate change, the long dry spell, unrestrained damming and irresponsible water use, especially in the agriculture sector.