Debris removal may trigger respiratory diseases, experts warn

Debris removal may trigger respiratory diseases, experts warn

Debris removal may trigger respiratory diseases, experts warn

People in the earthquake-hit region may suffer respiratory diseases in the short or long term due to construction dust, whose spread can also pose a public health problem because of asbestos in it, experts warn.

“Inhalation of construction dust generated during debris removal or rescue efforts may cause some fungal infections to settle in the lungs,” said Tevfik Özlü, a professor from Karadeniz Technical University (KTÜ), stressing that this may be more severe in people with chronic diseases, especially those with lung diseases.

Accordingly, people with problems such as chronic bronchitis, COPD, asthma or pulmonary hardening should stay away from dusty environments as permanent fungal infections may occur due to the dust they breathe, he suggested.

Recalling that the use of asbestos was banned in Türkiye in 2010, Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari, the head of the Asbestos Dismantling Experts Association (ASUD), said, “Though the earthquake also destroyed some new buildings, most of the collapsed were old ones, which contain asbestos and other dangerous substances.”

A large amount of dust is dispersed into the atmosphere during debris removal or demolition of damaged buildings, the expert said.

“The operators, demolition team and debris workers are primarily exposed to these dusts, as environmental and public health problems may arise with the spread of dust to the citizens watching the demolitions.”

Even if there is no asbestos in the dusts, there may be other dangerous substances that cause diseases, he warned.

“A ‘dust suppressor’ machine used in demolitions, which creates a fog cloud allowing airborne dust to descend to the ground without spreading,” Ensari informed, stressing that people around, especially the teams involved in the demolition, should use dust masks.

Irrigation should be carried out during the operations to reduce the effect of the removed dust, the expert also urged the authorities.

“We need to prevent another disaster from occurring after the earthquake. The dust emitted in the environment cannot be prevented 100 percent, but the suffering of the people there should be minimized.”