High level of air pollution in Istanbul worries experts
Hava İzleme (Air Watch), a weather monitoring platform of Turkey’s Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Ministry, reveals that air pollution has been at a high level recently in Istanbul’s Kağıthane, Esenler, Kadıköy, Ümraniye, Başakşehir, Beşiktaş and Avcılar districts.
While the fact that the districts with high pollution are close to the city’s main roads stands out as a remarkable factor among the findings, it is striking that the districts with comparatively cleaner air are mostly those more susceptible to wind.
The data show that the pollution level of the air changes according to the traffic density hours, and the pollution increases in the morning and evening rush hours.
As the polluted air is clearly visible in the morning in Kağıthane, a working-class district located on the European side of the Turkish metropolis, haze covers the region later in the day.
Some residents are of the opinion that air pollution in Istanbul mainly is caused by overpopulation, and expert remarks also support this view.
Professor Selahattin İncecik, the head of the International Air Pollution Prevention and Environmental Protection Association, noted that one of the most important causes of air pollution is traffic-related particles in the air.
“Thirteen people die prematurely every minute around the world due to air pollution. Particles are the main reason for this and we know the source of these particles, especially traffic,” İncecik said, adding that these evaluations are also valid for Istanbul.
“Istanbul has a population of 16 million and there are 4.5 million motor vehicles in the metropolis, 3.2 million of which are automobiles,” the expert noted, stressing the need for new regulations and new restrictions on traffic.
Noting that the biggest need is electric vehicles, İncecik also stated that people should be directed to public transportation and especially rail systems.
Professor Bülent Tutluoğlu, the head of the Academic Respiratory Society, stated that it is observed that the number of admissions to the emergency units due to respiratory diseases increases especially during the winter months when air pollution is intense.
“We see that respiratory problems are more common among those living near the main roads. Air pollution has the ability to cause lung cancer,” Tutluoğlu said.
“We know that on days when air pollution is high, COVID-19 infection is more and those who get the infection show a more severe course,” he added.