Prosperity, specifically in developed countries, due to the global industry has inevitably caused energy crises and environmental pollution. These issues demand close attention to be resolved sooner than later. The amount of energy produced and consumed is an important parameter affecting the level of emission as well as the source of the energy, i.e., coal versus renewable. Regular and independent measurements should be made and closely followed to monitor the emission/pollution sources and to be proactive should there be any measures taken to restore the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established an Air Quality Index (AQI) for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act. Each of these pollutants has a national air quality standard set by the EPA to protect public health:
-Particle pollution (also known as particulate matter, including PM2.5 and PM10)
The AQI is a system of colours and numbers used to communicate the air quality in a region. The index colour scheme starts with green for healthy air through maroon for the unhealthiest level. Likewise, the AQI numbers go from healthiest (0-50) to unhealthiest (300+).
For each pollutant, an AQI value of 100 generally corresponds to an ambient air concentration that equals the level of the short-term national ambient air quality standard for the protection of public health. AQI values at or below 100 are generally thought of as satisfactory. When AQI values are above 100, air quality is unhealthy: at first for certain sensitive groups of people, then for everyone as AQI values get higher.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change of Turkey has set up a “National Air Quality Monitoring Network” with 360 measurement points all over the country. The air quality is continuously measured and recorded for further reference.
Below, Map 1 shows the recordings of the air quality in Turkey in different regions as of October 25th, 2022, at 14:00 o’clock Local time. The colour code is the same as AQI above.
The following map is as of July 28th, 2022, at 14:00 o’clock
The next map is January 20th, 2022, at 14:00 o’clock
The first map is in autumn, the second map is in summer, and the third map is in winter. The green zones in summer and autumn are observed more compared to the winter AQI. The reason is mainly the domestic heating in central and eastern parts of the country. The alarming region is southwest Anatolia, where the orange and the red zones are always observed regardless of the season. The coal-fired Power plants are concentrated in that region and not all of them are utilizing proper emission-reducing measures.
Map 4 is February 19th, 2019, at 14:00 o’clock. Despite being in the middle of the winter season, air pollution, in general, was much less than in 2022. This can be attributed to the shutdown of the country due to Covid 19. The energy needed was much less, and the source of the emission was mainly domestic heating.
The Black Sea Coast (the northern part of the country) seems to be suffering less compared to the other regions mainly due to the windy climate and less concentration of industry and the population.
The data presented above in all the maps are now available for the previous years as well. It would have been much more informative if a weighted average based on the population could have been available for the whole country. However specific centres such as İstanbul and Ankara can be selected to follow up on the emission and pollution levels. The below table summarizes the AQI for Istanbul and Ankara on the 25th of October at 14:00 o’clock for 2022, 2021, and 2020.
25.10.2022 25.10.2021 25.10.2020
Istanbul 55 24 56
Ankara 51 19 43
The AQI values at any time do not necessarily indicate the trend and/or the causes without a detailed analysis of the big data. One should step back and look at the reasons behind the changes. The two main reasons are energy production and heating. With the increasing natural gas prices energy production will resort to coal more than the previous years, similarly, the heating need, particularly for the low-income groups, will be fulfilled by coal and other inexpensive environmentally not-so-friendly sources.
The early indicators can be shortlisted as:
-Electricity needed for industry and household
-The weather conditions, cold winters increase the emission and hot summers increase the energy need for ACs.
-Natural Gas prices.
Following up the above three parameters with the detailed AQI will complete the picture to understand the emission levels, trends, and reasons.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Turkey Country Manager Dr. Semih Ergur