Air pollution increases in Turkey as researchers struggle to access vital data
Air quality across Turkey is above the safety limit values set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the Right to Clean Air Platform, an independent nongovernmental organization focused on the issue of air pollution in the country.
The platform shared the results of its research, “Black Report 2020: Air Pollution and Health Impact,” with the public on Aug. 13. The health effects of air pollution in the region between 2016 and 2020 were evaluated in the research, in which the country’s four-year air pollution report was also announced.
The air pollution level was above the WHO limit values in 98 percent of the 51 provinces that were measured in the country in 2019, according to the report.
The pollution level was above the national limit values in 70 percent of the provinces under the scope of the research study.
The air pollution level was below the WHO recommended safety limit values only in the southern provinces of Adana and Hatay.
The top three provinces with the highest air pollution last year were the eastern province of Iğdır, the Central Anatolian province of Çorum and the northwestern province of Düzce, according to the study.
Last year, air quality could not be calculated in 30 provinces, home to nearly 18 million people, due to insufficient data on the quality of the air.
And for the past three years, there has been no information about the level of air pollution in three provinces that are home to nearly 2.2 million people, including the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir.
The three provinces with the highest number of deaths attributed to air pollution last year were Istanbul, İzmir and Manisa, where many industrial facilities are located.
The province with the highest number of deaths per capita due to air pollution in 2019 was Iğdır at 33.5 percent, which is same as in previous years.
Nearly 7.9 percent of all deaths could have been prevented in 2019 if air pollution in the country had been reduced to the WHO guideline value, according to the report.
The problem of air pollution has become a matter of chronic concern in Iğdır, Düzce and Manisa.
The provinces with the cleanest air are the Black Sea provinces of Ardahan, Rize and Artvin.
But even if air pollution has been measured at its lowest level for three straight years in Ardahan, Rize and Artvin, the level of air pollution in the provinces may sometimes exceed the WHO recommended values, the report said.
An improvement was observed in the air quality of Turkey’s metropoles in the first half of this year as a result of the reduced traffic due to the measures taken within the scope of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the level of air pollution started to rise again in June due to increased activity with the reopening of industrial plants and the lifting of travel restrictions.