Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
Air pollution is a major problem for Turkey with 8 out of 10 most polluted cities in Europe found in the country, a recent Guardian article revealed. News quickly spread to press in Turkey.
The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, recently published a special analysis about the air pollution in cities by using the World Health Organization (WHO)’s PM 2.5 database. The results of the study showed that billions of people breathe polluted air every day with Turkey among the most effected countries. While cities in India and China are among the top polluted countries globally, in Europe eight out of 10 cities are located in Turkey (Batman, Hakkari, Gaziantep, Siirt, Afyon, Karaman, Iğdır, Isparta).
Since this article was published in the UK, HEAL in Turkey informed the Turkish press who spread the news quickly which consequently led to much coverage in the media. HEAL’s Consultant on Energy and Health in Turkey Funda Gacal was quoted in several news articles and interviewed on radio shows. In addition, doctors and health specialists working on air pollution in Turkey including Dr. Haluk Çalışır, Dr. Gamze Varol Saraçoğlu and Dr. Kayıhan Pala were interviewed on CNN-Turk, a famous TV channel in Turkey, on radio programs and cited in national press.
— Health&Environment (@HealthandEnv) January 20, 2017
Air pollution is one of the most significant environmental problems of our time. Experts from the medical community warn of permanent damages of bad air quality to our respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. In a city like Istanbul where 16 million people live, air quality is dangerously high with WHO datasets showing that PM 2.5 annual mean levels for Istanbul is 33 μg/m3, three times more than WHO’s limits, which is 10 μg/m3.
In 2015, HEAL published an analysis on the economic costs of air pollution from coal power plants in Turkey, the Unpaid Health Bill, calculating the burden of diseases caused by the emissions from coal power plants in Turkey, which are responsible for 2,876 premature deaths, 3,823 new cases of chronic bronchitis in adults, 4,311 hospital admissions and 637,643 lost working days each year. The economic cost of the health impacts from coal combustion in Turkey is estimated at 2,9 billion up to 3,6 billion EUR per year.
HEAL is a partner of the Right to Clean Air Platform, which brings together 18 organisations, working on the issue of air pollution from coal power plants. The platform launched the Dark Report (Kara Rapor in Turkish) in 2016. The report, which analysed PM10 levels measured by official air quality measurement devices of the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, revealed that only 1 out of 81 cities of Turkey is under the WHO’s PM10 limits. It is also a critical issue that the official limit for PM10 in Turkey is much higher than WHO’s and EU’s limits when Turkey does not have any limit about PM2.5 which is known for posing more health risk than PM10 pollutant.
For more information contact HEAL’s Consultant on Energy and Health in Turkey Funda Gacal email@example.com.