Only six Turkish cities have clean air, report says

Turkish Chamber of Environmental Engineers published a report on alarming levels of air pollution across Turkey, Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported.

Only six out of 81 provincial centres were found to have clean air, Baran Bozoğlu, head of the chamber was quoted as saying:

Air pollution problem in Turkey has reached a public safety crisis level. Governors and mayors should take urgent action.

Less industrialised, smaller cities have the air quality that experts categorise as clean, such as Artvin, Bitlis, Eskişehir, Yozgat, Kırşehir and Kırıkkale; but the metropolitan centres of Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, Amasya and Manisa are the most polluted, the report said.

Bozoğlu said they based their findings on the World Health Organisation’s PM10 standards, which measures the presence of small particles in the air.

75 provinces out of 81 had PM10 levels above the threshold for more than 35 days in a year, Bozoğlu explained.

Air pollution increases the risk of infections, cancer, infant mortality, and deaths among adults as well, Bozoğlu said.

The report also analysed main causes of air pollution.

In Ankara, Turkey’s capital, and Izmir the western coastal city, “increased traffic and use of coal” are the main pollutants, the report said. Mass transportation and use of natural gas should be encouraged, Bozoğlu added.

In Istanbul, Turkey’s most populated city, the urban transformation is the main cause, with each new construction adding more dust to city’s air. The local municipalities should monitor the situation and do a city planning that allows wind between buildings, and use of correct material, the report suggested.

People should avoid going out on morning and evening rush hours, report said.

A photo of Yatağan Power Plant, taken near Şahinler Köyü, Muğla, Turkey on March 23, 2010. Ahmet Bzt / Wikimedia
A photo of Yatağan Power Plant, taken near Şahinler Köyü, Muğla, Turkey on March 23, 2010. Ahmet Bzt / Wikimedia

Urban regions around coal power plants are badly affected, the report said, particularly in Yatağan Power Plant, in the western province of Muğla, the PM10 measurements are no longer shared with the public, Bozoğlu said.

The government should take measures to protect public health, but they instead relaxed filtering requirements at these power plants until 2020, Bozoğlu said.

“We demand the Constitutional Court to overturn this decision immediately,” Bozoğlu concluded.