The aptly titled âDark Reportâ by the non-profit Right to Clean Air Platform (THHP) based in Turkey paints a grim picture of air pollution in Turkey. The report, based on data from pollution monitoring stations, says 13 out of 81 provinces across the country suffered high levels of air pollution in 2020 – a year in which contributions to pollution peaked due to disruptions in the world. daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. .
The annual average values ââof particulate matter (PM10) recorded in 97.7% of the 175 measuring stations, exceeded the guideline values ââset by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the report.
The guideline values ââset a tolerance limit for air pollutants before they pose a risk to public health. Particulate matter is the most comprehensive indicator of air pollution and includes sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, carbon black, mineral dust, and water. Particles less than 10 microns in diameter can enter the lungs, endangering human health.
According to the report, air pollution in 45 provinces has exceeded national pollutant limits. Fifteen stations in the provinces of MuÅ, IÄdÄ±r, Malatya and AÄrÄ± in the east, Istanbul, Edirne and Denizli in the west, the capital Ankara, the northern provinces Tokat, DÃ¼zce, Sinop and KarabÃ¼k and the central province of Kayseri indicate that they all suffer from high pollution, while only Bitlis and Hakkari, two small provinces in the east, had PM10 below the WHO guideline values. The report singles out MuÅ as having the most polluted air, which âthe population has to breathe for 306 days a yearâ.
Istanbul, as the most populous city in the country, featured prominently in the Dark Report, even though it had a lower PM10 average than in previous years. Yet the 2020 levels were twice as high as the WHO guideline values. Four districts and wards of the city had levels three times the WHO limit. These were MecidiyekÃ¶y on the European side of the city, a busy transportation and business hub, the developing suburb of Sultangazi, Esenyurt, which has experienced a population boom in recent years, and AlibeykÃ¶y. In the capital Ankara, air pollution levels recorded by a station in Siteler, an industrial district dotted with furniture factories, were four times the WHO limits.
In Izmir, the third largest province in the country, AliaÄa is doing the worst, with levels more than twice the WHO values. The main pollutants of the AliaÄa industrial hub include a coal-fired power plant, scrap metal processing plants and petrochemical facilities.
The THHP says the increasing number of heat waves Turkey has faced over the past decade has made forest fires more common among the causes of pollution. This gives an example of a fire in Hatay that emitted massive levels of carbon black into the air. Another finding from the report is that coronavirus cases are higher in places with higher air pollution.
Air pollution weakens the lungs, the main target of COVID-19, which in turn makes cases worse. THHP coordinator Buket AtlÄ± said Turkey must commit to reducing premature air pollution deaths by 55% by 2030 and declare a scale air pollution strategy national, “a major public health problem”.