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.
Massive investments into new coal power generation are being planned in Turkey, worsening an already poor air quality situation and threatening people’s health. A new HEAL toolkit puts the spotlight on the three ‘coal hotspot’ cities of Terkidag, Canakkale and Izmir. The toolkit aims to support local health professionals and community groups engaged to prevent new coal.
The toolkit entitled “Coal power generation and health in three regions of Turkey: Canakkale, İzmir, and Terkirdag, Turkey”  focuses on these three cities where coal projects in the pipeline are likely to increase the existing health burden. Each year, 29,000 people die early from air pollution in Turkey.
Four coal plants are already running in the city of Canakkale, nine new plants are being planned, and one new plant is already under construction. In Tekirdag and Izmir new plants are also in the pipeline, but mounting public concern has already led to the cancelling of some projects. What these 3 regions have in common is the existing lignite coal in the ground and transportation facilities by water, and that the heavy industry has been using and polluting these areas for years. The toolkit also presents information on the overall energy situation in Turkey, where 67% of electricity production is based on fossil fuels.
Contents of the toolkit
The toolkit brings together evidence on the health and environmental situation in Tekirdag, Canakkale and Izmir with statements from local health professionals. It provides information on:
Energy policies and air pollution in Turkey
Air quality assesment in Tekirdag, Izmir and Canakkale
Evidence on the presence of heavy metals and chemicals in the city areas, and their effect on public health
Information on existing and planned coal power plants in the regions
Communicating on health threats
The toolkit’s second section –From information to action – contains a range of hands-on suggestions. It describes how to communicate the evidence on how coal power generation impacts health to different audiences. It also includes tips on developing specific messaging on coal and health, including sample messages and open letters.
 English version of the toolkit