What is air quality?
The air we breathe is colourless and odourless. It consists of a mixture of several gases necessary for our life such as Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide, Argon.
All pollutants in the form of gases or particles produced by men or naturally in the air we breathe reduce the air quality.
Air quality is basically evaluated using air pollution measurements, emission inventory calculated at local and national scale, and three-dimensional air quality modelling systems by which all these systems are used together.
Through the HEY (Air Emission Management Portal) reached from the servers of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, regional strategic maps are being prepared. Our citizens are provided with air quality information of the districts where they live in. Strategies and policies for improving air quality are determined by these tools.
How is air quality evaluated?
The purpose of the AQI is to help us understand the link between our health and the air quality of the region we live in.
Air Quality Index (AQI), which is widely used in the World classifies air quality in 6 different categories, within the range of 0-500, according to the pollutant concentrations.
If the AQI value is 100, it usually corresponds to the national air quality standard. An index value below 100 generally indicates a good situation. The higher the AQI is, the higher the air pollution is and the higher the risk to public health risk. An AQI value over 300 indicates that the air quality is poor and, consequently, the risks to human health are high. Method and criteria which are used for the calculation of the indexes in many countries are prepared according to their air quality standards. Air quality in cities is monitored by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization through measurement stations connected to the National Air Quality Monitoring Network. Air quality measurement results provided from monitoring stations, which are linked to the National Air Quality Monitoring Network, can be followed from “www.havaizleme.gov.tr” and mobile application.
What is air pollution?
Air pollution occurs when foreign substances in the air that adversely affect all living things reach the amount and density above normal values. In another words, it is presence of foreign substances in the form of solid, liquid and gaseous in the atmosphere in a density that will harm all living life, especially human health, and the ecological balance.
Air pollution occurs when the gas and particle pollutants are released into the atmosphere from various sources in a such amount that gives harmful effects to human health and the environment. Although this may occur as a result of natural processes such as volcanic activity or dust storms, it is mainly caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and industrial production.
Sources of air pollution
- Traffic: Gases and dust from vehicle exhaust.
- Industrialization: Gases and dusts from factory chimneys.
- Domestic heating: Gases and dust from chimneys due to using of fossil fuels for residential heating
- Wastes: Dangerous substances harmful for our health and the environment directly mix into the nature.
- Wrong use of agricultural practices: The use of agricultural machinery and pesticides that will harm the air and the environment.
- Natural causes: Gases and dust carried by volcanic eruptions, desert storms.
Activities causing air pollution
Natural sources of air pollution
Not all pollutants are anthropogenic. Part of the chemicals and particles that cause air pollution are released from natural sources such as volcanic eruptions, wild-fires, and desert storms. Weather conditions, geographical location, and the topography of our provinces can all contribute to increased levels of air pollution. Even if the relief of our provinces do not present such problems, meteorological conditions still play an important role in air pollution.
Anthropogenic sources of air pollution
Due to a significant increase in the global human population and increasing industrialization across the world, air pollution levels increased considerably in the last decades.
Air pollution in large residential and industrial areas is the most important factor affecting public health.
Metropolitan cities, with soaring populations, have particularly high levels of residential heating emissions, for example, which leads to an increase in pollutants present, in the atmosphere.
Besides, the concentration of road vehicles is extremely high in these areas. High traffic congestion and a more significant amount of fuel that is consumed subsequently generate higher exhaust emissions; the particles of which, again, pollute the atmosphere.
Mercury, lead, dioxins and similar chemicals, which are released by burning gas, coal or other materials for heating purposes although prohibited, create toxic pollutants.
How do we protect air quality?
Reducing air pollution not only ensures the sustainability of a cleaner environment and allows us to be healthier individuals, but also slows down the effects of global warming. We can all contribute to improving the air quality in our country and city:
- Prefer natural gas and clean energy sources as far as possible for heating.
- Participate in the preparation and implementation processes of Clean Air Action Plans in the provinces we live in.
- Decrease room temperature by 1 degree during winter months so that we can save 7% on your natural gas bill and contribute to the air quality.
- Contribute up to 90% to the improvement of air quality by using public transport instead of personal vehicle.
- When we see gas coming out of a vehicle’s exhaust, notify ALO 181 Çevre Line with the plate.
- The energy we use in buildings without thermal insulation increases by 15-20%. Save money and increase air quality by making thermal insulation.
- Show interest in all the work carried out by local governments on the subject.
- Get together with more people to learn more about air quality.
- Participate in activities carried out to raise awareness.
- Share our thoughts on air quality with the relevant organizations.
- Choose alternative routes when traffic is heavy.
- Prefer to use renewable energy sources.
- Prefer to use recyclable products.
- Use bicycles and public transport more frequently.
- Use energy more efficiently in our home.
Effects of air pollution on public health
Every day, more than 19 m3 (23 kilograms) of air moves inside & out of the lungs of an average person with an average weight. This amount varies according to the age and physical activity of the individual.
The quality of respiration is a major factor in the effective functioning of human metabolism and the air inhaled, is fundamental to that process.
When air pollutants first enter the respiratory system, they move past the lungs before reaching the circulatory system where they are carried around the body and capable of affecting all physiological processes.
Every year, 8 million people die because of air pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that air pollution is the main environmental cause of death from cancer.
Recent studies show that the risk of premature death and getting heart and respiratory diseases (Asthma, COPD, etc.), paralysis, cancer, and similar diseases caused by exposure to air pollution increase not just in children and also in older people as well. On the other hand air pollution is linked with especially heart and respiratory system diseases. Reduction of air pollution will also decrease death rates.
People most affected by air pollution
- Patients with lung diseases such as asthma, COPD,
- Patients with cardiovascular diseases
- Patients with other serious illnesses like diabetes
- Children and babies
- The elderly
- Pregnant women