In 2008, Ankara was listed as one of the world’s worst cities for air pollution.
The large increase in natural gas prices and the distribution of free coal by municipalities prior to local elections has led to an enormous jump in pollution levels in Ankara, reaching 9,350 micrograms per cubic meter in the Sıhhiye district. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, the acceptable level of pollution is a maximum of 300 micrograms.
“This is one of the highest levels in the world’s history. When pollution rose over 4,000 micrograms per cubic meter in London in 1952, approximately 4,000 people died,” Dr. Recep Akdur, an expert in public health.
Other articles from the same time period also discuss the burning of coal and traffic. See, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/10456166.asp and http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/dangerous-levels-of-air-pollution-in-ankara.html.
Believe me, you don’t want to visit neighborhoods such as Keçiören during coal-burning months. It makes one literally gasp for air. Nor do you want to drive down Alparslan Türkeş Bulvarı (Çankırı Blv.) when the factories are illegally releasing nasty toxins into the air just kilometers from the Ankara airport.
These articles and the current air conditions have caused me to question what Turkey is doing to resolve the issues of air pollution. Firstly, coal is not usually burned in the Summer months. In addition, the Ankara traffic is lighter during the Summer because large numbers of residents are vacationing on the sea coasts.
Air pollution should be less noticeable during the Summer and yet, my husband and I have been suffering from sinus headaches for many days. Yesterday, I decided to go for a short walk in my neighborhood. It was overcast and a bit cooler than it had been in recent weeks. But my walk was cut short. I just couldn’t breathe. Every Spring and Summer there seems to be a constant fume permeating the air. It smells something like burning plastic. It’s strongest during the day, and disappears in the evening only to return the next morning.
This article from May 2012 shows Ankara still struggling with air pollution:
In terms of sulfur dioxide air pollution caused by fossil fuels, İstanbul is the seventh most polluted city in the world, while Ankara ranks 26th.
The WHO’s limit value for air quality is annual mean concentrations of 20 micrograms per cubic meter for particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (Ankara is 35 mcg, İstanbul 42 mcg), 40 micrograms for nitrogen dioxide (Ankara 46 mcg, İstanbul was not included in the report), and daily mean concentrations of 20 micrograms per cubic meter for sulfur dioxide (Ankara 55 mcg, İstanbul 120 mcg).
Particularly in terms of sulfur dioxide concentration, which is described as a pollutant resulting from the consumption of coal, diesel fuel and gasoline containing sulfur, Turkey’s two largest cities İstanbul and Ankara are placed rather high on the list of most polluted cities: İstanbul is ranked seventh and Ankara 26th out of 97 cities. . .
Regarding nitrogen dioxide, which is known to cause irritation in the nasal cavity, Ankara ranks 45th out of 86 cities. . .
The other pollutant in the report is particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 microns. The report gives the rate of such matter based on measurements carried out in 1990 and 2009. Although both İstanbul and Ankara have decreased the amount of particulate matter in the air by half within the 19-year period, in 2009 İstanbul still holds 39th place, while Ankara is 48th out of 111 cities on the list. . .
. . . According to the WHO, air pollution is a major risk to health, and it’s possible to reduce the cases of respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer by reducing air pollution levels. Chronic exposure to particulate matter contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer.
Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide, major sources of which are combustion processes such as heating, power generation and engines in vehicles and ships, causes the symptoms of bronchitis to increase in asthmatic children. It is also associated with reduced lung function growth. As to the effects of sulfur dioxide, overexposure may cause problems in the respiratory system and lungs, and eye irritation. When combined with water, sulfur dioxide forms sulfuric acid, the main component of acid rain.
According to the WHO findings, air pollution in cities is estimated to cause 1.3 million deaths a year globally. The WHO Air Quality Guidelines demonstrates that by reducing particulate matter pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter, it is possible to decrease air quality-related deaths by around 15 percent.
Come on Turkey, we don’t need this!!! What are you doing about it???