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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 20 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Ankara air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Friday, Dec 1|
Good 18 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Good 24 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Good 27 AQI US
Good 20 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Moderate 63 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Moderate 67 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Moderate 53 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Good 50 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 9|
Moderate 56 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 10|
Moderate 64 AQI US
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Ankara is the capital city of Turkey, with historical names such as Ancyra and Angora having been used in the past. Ankara has seen many ancient civilizations come and go, including Greek, Persian, Roman and Galatian settlements. Nowadays Ankara is known for being a green city, surrounded by large areas of steppe vegetation that produce pears and muscat grapes. Despite being a green city, Ankara has its own share of pollution related issues, with air quality becoming an increasingly prominent topic in Turkey in recent times.
In 2019, Ankara came in with a PM2.5 reading of 18.4 μg/m³, putting it into the ‘moderate’ pollution bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, and is a major component used in calculating the overall levels of air pollution.
This 2019 reading of 18.4 μg/m³ was enough to place Ankara into the 1002nd most polluted city worldwide, as well as coming in at 32nd place out of all cities in Turkey. Whilst it does have some elevated readings of pollution, it does not share some of the disastrous levels of pollution that other cities in Turkey suffer from, such as Lalapaşa which came in with a yearly average of 53.8 μg/m³, as well as having certain months of the year hit catastrophic levels of pollution such as 124.4 μg/m³ in January 2019.
Regardless, with a PM2.5 ranking being in the moderate bracket, Ankara will have times of the year when its diminished air quality could present issues to its citizens, with any readings over the World Health Organizations (WHO) target goal of 0 to 10 μg/m³ being undesirable, despite this being a fairly hard number to achieve for many cities round the world.
With some 4.5 million inhabitants within the city limits, Ankara would be subject to pollution sources that arise in many cities with high population. Air pollution is now considered one of the most pertinent issues in Turkey, with an estimated 30 thousand people dying each year due to related causes, representing around 8 percent of all deaths nationwide.
The main cause of pollution in Ankara and indeed many of Turkey’s cities is vehicular emissions, with some 4 million vehicles in the country as of 1990 increasing to 25 million in 2020. Many of these vehicles such as cars, lorries and buses do not meet international standards when it comes to emissions, with large amounts of diesel fuel being used.
With the burning of fossil fuels comes elevated levels of pollution as well as novel chemical compounds, not seen in cleaner fuel alternatives. Other sources of pollution would be the many factories around Ankara that run on coal, putting out large amounts of smoke and haze. These are the two compounding factors for the city.
With a large amount of its pollution coming from vehicle emissions, many of the gases and particulate matter would be linked with the combustion of diesel fuels, as well as the burning of coals in the factories. Particulate matter such as black carbon emitted in the form of soot would be of concern, due to its highly damaging effects to both human health and the environment. It is formed from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels as well as organic matter, and would be released alongside other pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), gases which include Benzene and formaldehyde.
Other pollutants coming from cars would include ones such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (S02), as well as carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3) being present.
Based off the numbers taken over the last few years, it would appear that Ankara is making marginal improvements in its air quality. In 2018 Ankara came in with a PM2.5 reading of 19.6 μg/m³, followed by the aforementioned reading of 18.4 μg/m³ taken in 2019. Whilst this is an improvement of just more than a single unit, it is still a step in the right direction, and with air quality becoming such an important topic to Turkey as a whole, there may be more improvements in the years to come following 2020.
Of note is that in the year 2020, due to the covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdowns, air quality saw rapid improvements in Ankara and indeed countrywide. However, these quickly disappeared once normal movement resumed, showing just how much of a pollutive effect the mass movement of people and vehicles have on the environment.
Ankara sees some of its best air quality in the beginning and middle portions of the year, with its highest pollution readings coming in towards the end. This does not follow the trend of the more polluted cities in the country, with many of them having highly elevated levels of pollution at the beginning of the year as well, no doubt as a result of the previous years elevated levels in November and December following on into the next year.
In 2019, the month that showed the best level of air quality was July, with a PM2.5 reading of 12 μg/m³, putting it into the ‘good’ category of air quality, the only month to achieve this in the whole year, but only by a very fine margin of 0.1 μg/m³, with an increment of that much pushing it back up into the moderate ratings bracket.
As touched on before, Turkey is making bold steps to reduce the number of its citizens dying from air pollution related problems. So, pertaining to Ankara, the main steps that would see drastic improvements in its air quality and a large fall in the levels of smoke and haze permeating the sky (particularly in areas with high vehicular concentration) would be to impose fines and enforce new laws regarding offending sources of pollution.
This would include the many factories that run on coal, and with the implementation of more pollution detecting devices (to read the levels of PM2.5 and chemicals in the air in any given location, as well as satellite readings), offending factories could be charged until they get their emissions under control, which would put a huge dent in the pollution levels given off by this industry.
Others would be the introduction of stricter rules regarding fuels used in cars, with more international standards being adopted to reduce the number of diesel-based engines on the road, thus reducing pollution levels even more. With these in effect, it would be very achievable for Ankara to drop down a ranking into the good air quality bracket, and then further towards the WHO’s target goal for a much cleaner future.