Turkey's capital city Ankara struggles with air pollution, and with the increasing use of coal, the city’s need to meet EU levels of observation and regulation is becoming more apparent everyday, according to one expert.
Heval Sarıtaş, secretary for the Environmental Engineers’ Chamber, or ÇMO, from the Turkish Union of Engineers’ and Architects’ Chambers, or TMMOB, said the data acquired by the air control observation network should be properly evaluated and shared with the public. Sarıtaş also said it should be known which parameters are being considered, adding, "We do not think enough parameters are being considered in measuring the air pollution of Ankara."
Sarıtaş said the air pollution of Turkey originated from heating units, motor vehicles and industrial facilities. Furthermore, unplanned urban growth, topographical structures and meteorological conditions increase air pollution.
Sarıtaş said the main agents causing air pollution in Ankara were motor vehicles and heating. "The main reason for us to feel the pollution at its densest during winter is air pollution from heating units. It is not true to say only motor vehicles cause air pollution," he said, adding that during summertime we feel the air pollution less than in winter despite having the same number of vehicles.
’Not all parameters are being measured’
Sarıtaş also commented on the network for observation of air control, being operated by the Refik Saydam Hygiene Center and Ministry of Environment and Forestry. "Not all parameters are being measured," said Sarıtaş, adding that the network itself may not be a problem; the important thing is acquiring healthy data and sharing it with the public. "There are 13 parameters measured for air pollution in the EU but less parameters are considered in our country. This prevents us having a healthy opinion on the quality of our environment," said Sarıtaş, adding that presently work to reduce air pollution is happening, but it’s not enough.
Sarıtaş said Turkey’s air pollution standards did not fit the EU’s criteria. "If we are talking about Ankara, it is even truer," he said, adding that Turkey’s pollution parameters are higher than the EU’s but the ministry is trying to improve it with new regulation on air quality. The regulation would help the standards become compatible with those of the EU by 2014. "If the targeted policy is not carried out correctly and the necessary investments are not done, that date is not realistic either," he said.
Sarıtaş said price increases decrease motivation to use natural gas and in turn increases air pollution. "The biggest cause of air pollution is the usage of fossil fuels anyway," said Sarıtaş, adding that it is normal for people to prefer fossil fuels like coal when the price for natural gas is higher.
Sarıtaş said there were places where coal was being handed out as public relief and added, "We do not know whether the coal mentioned is contraband or not but we hear rumors that it is. If they are handing out contraband coal, its affect on air pollution is worrisome." He also added that contraband coal contains a high amount of contaminants that cause air pollution.