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Testimonies from leading health advocates and medical experts in Turkey

“A large coal-fired power plant emits several thousand tons of hazardous air pollutants every year and has an average lifetime of at least 40 years. The plans for a massive increase in investment would mean that coal’s contribution to respiratory and cardiovascular disease would continue for decades. This unhealthy future has to be avoided. We would like to see the Turkish government detaching itself from this polluted and outmoded source of energy.”

Dr.Bayazıt İlhan, President of the Central Council of Turkish Medical Association

“Most coal-fired power plants in Turkey use lignite, or brown coal. The ash content of lignite and air pollutant emissions from lignite plants are considerably higher than from black coal leading to massive health and environmental problems. The most polluting lignite plants should be urgently phased out for public health, as well as the occupational health of power plant workers.”

Cebrail Şimşek, MD, President, Turkish Occupational Medicine Society (İMUD)

“The WHO classification of air pollution as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) showed that our concerns on the severity of the issue we’ve had and shared for years with the society, as responsible health professionals, were legitimate and sound. It is time to build a stronger alliance among the health community, environmental NGOs and democratic mass organisations, and even a louder advocacy for development of country’s energy future independent of coal and other fossil fuels, prioritising the efficient use of energy and renewable resources. It is an urgent necessity from a public health perspective, as well as it is a constitutional requirement, that the government develops its energy supply policies and supports investments in respect to this common public demand. The transboundary nature of air pollution also highlights the importance of international solidarity in support of these efforts to protect human health.”

Prof. Dr. Ali Osman Karababa, President, Doctors for the Environment Turkey

“Lung disease is a major health concern in Turkey. About 9% of National Disease Burden is composed of respiratory diseases. Cleaner air will lead to rapid health improvements. We know this because on days when air pollution has fluctuated upwards the numbers of asthma attacks, hospitalisations, and even deaths have increased.”

Filiz Koşar, MD, President, Turkish Respiratory Society (TRS)

“Turkish doctors and public health specialists know air pollution to be an important risk factor for health. Our Society is committed to bring the evidence on air pollution and health to the citizens and decision-makers to improve air quality. One policy change that is overdue is to include limit values for PM2.5 in the Turkish air quality legislation, and strengthen PM10 limit values to the limits recommended by the World Health Organization. Daily measurement and monitoring of PM2.5 levels must be ensured all over the country, and immediate measures must be taken to protect public health, together with effective public announcement, in severely polluted areas.”

Assoc. Prof. Haluk C. Çalışır, Chair of Air Pollution Working Group, Turkish Thoracic Society

“Turkey’s rate of increase of GHG emissions is the highest among OECD countries, in which coal-fired power plants contribute significantly. The rapid increase of its GHG emissions puts Turkey’s chance to combat climate change into jeopardy, as well as country’s ability to comply with international agreements on the issue. On the other hand, environmental impacts of coal-fired power plants are not limited to massive GHG emissions. They have negative impacts on water resources’ quality and quantity, due to their high water consumption; and produce high amounts of ash as waste. They also cause air pollution through emissions of carcinogenic heavy metals and radioactive particulates. These plants are one of the top emitters of PM10. Lately, PM10 concentrations have been monitored to exceed WHO standards in considerable number of cities in Turkey. Turkey is ranked first by means of levels of air pollution among OECD countries. Coal-fired power plants have negative impacts on human health due to the environmental pollution they create. Allergic reactions, asthma, COPD, and cancers are observed especially in power plant workers and residents of their immediate vicinity.”

Prof. Dr. Türkan Günay, President, Turkish Society of Public Health Specialists (HASUDER)

Last updated on 19 May 2015

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