Aynur Tekin / DUVAR
Air pollution in Turkey kills six times as many people annually as car accidents, according to figures from the Clean Air Rights Platform.
31,476 people died last year as a result of conditions and illnesses brought on by exposure to air pollution. Istanbul, Izmir and Manisa were the three provinces with the highest numbers of deaths.
According to platform member Dr. Özfırat, air pollution levels in some provinces declined between March and June as the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout Turkey, but began to climb back up again after normalization measures were introduced in early June.
“The decrease in fossil fuels in traffic led to a decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels, particularly in the five big cities of Adana, Ankara, Bursa, İstanbul and Izmir. However, with the lifting of travel bans in June, a rapid increase is being witnessed in nitrogen dioxide levels,” Özfırat said.Istanbul air pollution spikes 38 pct in less than one month of 'normalization'
Health professionals are also concerned about the low level of testing for levels of harmful particles in the air, resulting in a lack of sufficient data.
“For example, we could not calculate the health effects caused by air pollution in one in every five provinces since there was not even a minimum level of data available in 2019,” said platform member Dr. Çiğdem Çağlayan.
For the provinces that did possess adequate data, 98 percent of them registered levels above the recommended limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Open AQ initiative, which seeks to combat air inequality, indicates that as many as 1.4 billion people worldwide do not have access to data regarding the quality of the air they breathe. Turkey was named as one of the 13 countries on a list of countries exceeding a 50 million population and where citizens do not have access to open data, according to Open AQ's research.
The provinces of Iğdır, Düzce, Manisa, Bursa and Kahramanmaraş were found to have chronic problems with air pollution, while the provinces with the cleanest air in Turkey were Ardahan, Tunceli, Rize, Artvin and Bitlis.Turkey’s first digital strike is for the climate