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1:26, Dec 1
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Moderate|| 61 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Istanbul is currently 3.4 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Tuesday, Nov 28|
Good 34 AQI US
|Wednesday, Nov 29|
Good 37 AQI US
|Thursday, Nov 30|
Moderate 58 AQI US
Moderate 61 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Moderate 54 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Good 41 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Good 46 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Moderate 70 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Moderate 78 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Moderate 59 AQI US
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Istanbul is a city located in Turkey, being the largest in the country as well as the economic and cultural heart. It has a long and ancient history, being formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, as well as landmass in both Europe and Asia. Istanbul has a population of some 15 million people, also holding the title of largest city in Europe as well as 15th largest city in the world.
In regards to its air pollution, Istanbul came in with PM2.5 readings of 19.7 μg/m³ in 2019, placing its yearly average into the ‘moderate’ pollution bracket. Having this label means that the amount of PM2.5 in the air is coming in with readings anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³, placing Istanbul in the mid-range of this bracket.
This is indicative that the city is suffering from some pollutive issues, which will be discussed in short. Any readings above the World Health Organizations (WHO) target goal of 0 to 10 μg/m³ indicate that the air may be unsafe to breathe, and with year-round moderate ratings, the air quality may present a risk to those who are sensitive to chemical pollutants, as well as young children, the elderly or immunocompromised. This reading of 19.7 μg/m³ also put Istanbul into the 911th place out of all cities registered worldwide in 2019.
Istanbul, as well as the whole country, suffers from some well documented causes of pollution that still continue to go on despite attempts to intervene on certain practices. Some of the main causes include ones such as vehicular emissions, with the biggest offenders being older and outdated automobiles that pump out far larger amounts of pollutants than newer and ‘greener’ models would. Heavy duty vehicles, such as lorries, trucks and buses that run on diesel fuels are also particularly responsible for raising the yearly average PM2.5 readings.
Other causes of air pollution include the burning of local coal as well as other materials such as wood for heating and cooking, something that is more prominent in lower income areas that rely on these older and cheaper methods of supplying heat and energy to their homes. When practiced on a larger scale by hundred of thousands of people, the problem gets somewhat compounded and causes excessive amounts of smoke to enter the atmosphere.
Other sources include construction sites, as well as factories and industrial areas that also burn fossil fuels such as coal, both of which can cause more fine particulate matter such as PM2.5 and PM10 to enter the air, causing health issues for the citizens of Istanbul.
Observing the recorded data taken over 2019, there is an available list of each month’s pollution levels. Going off of this, it becomes apparent that Istanbul seems to have a fairly consistent level of pollution year-round, not subject to the disastrous spikes in PM2.5 that other cities around the world sometimes see.
However, it appears that Istanbul does suffer from a small jump in pollution levels towards the very end of the year, that persists until the next year before experiencing a sudden drop in July, which happened to be the cleanest month in 2019, with a PM2.5 reading of 13.3 μg/m³, making it only a few units above the ‘good’ ratings bracket, which requires a reading of 10 to 12 μg/m³ to be classed as such.
The months that came in with the highest readings of pollution were January through to May, as well as November and December, with November taking the top spot as most polluted month of the year, with a PM2.5 reading of 28.5 μg/m³. This was followed closely by February and March, which had readings of 24 μg/m³ and 23.8 μg/m³ respectively.
With a large amount of pollution coming directly from vehicles such as cars, motorbikes and lorries, the pollutants in the air would be particularly high with readings of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as well as sulfur dioxide (SO2). Vehicles also put out other materials such as black carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), particularly when they run on diesel fuels or use ancient and outdated engines.
Some examples of VOC’s that would be found in the air in Istanbul would be ones such as formaldehyde, benzene and methylene chloride. Of note is that VOC’s can also be found in many household products from sources such as fresh paint, varnish, vinyl flooring as well as personal products such as air freshers and cosmetics, something to consider in regards to the air quality within a home.
Back toIstanbu l's air, further pollutants would be ones such as carbon monoxide (CO) and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, both of which can be released from the burning of wood and other organic materials, more prominent in the aforementioned low-income areas.
Lastly, fine particulate matter such as silica and gravel dust would be prominent in the air around construction sites, which along with black carbon, can have carcinogenic properties when inhaled. The most prominent pollutant would likely be nitrogen dioxide, due to its mass release from vehicular emissions, and as such large amounts of it in the atmosphere can be used to accurately calculate how much pollution is coming directly from vehicles.
Turkey is taking large steps towards improving its air quality, with many new measures coming into play in 2020, an era of particular prominence due to the outbreak of covid-19 and the subsequent worldwide lockdowns. Turkey and Istanbul saw massive improvements in pollution levels during imposed lockdown periods, driving home just how much pollution is caused by the mass movement of people.
Air quality action plans are being put into place on an interpersonal level, in an attempt to reduce the amount of wood and other dirty materials being burnt in homes as well as factories. The gradual move away from over reliance on coal would go a long way to helping Istanbul reduce its air pollution levels, as well as the removal of older heavy-duty vehicles, with strict enforcement on taking them off the road a step in the right direction towards improving Istanbul's air quality and reducing the amount of smoke, haze and particulate matter in the atmosphere.