Air pollution across major Turkish cities has fallen significantly due to the reduced activity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The levels of airborne particulate matter in 29 metropolitan areas of Turkey have dropped 32%, according to data provided by air quality measurement stations and municipalities.
A sudden reduction of industrial production and transportation owing to measures implemented against the coronavirus has meant a 60% drop in air pollution in Kahramanmaraş – the sharpest downturn – followed by a drop of 58% in Şanlıurfa, 55% in Hatay, 53% in Van and a 51% in Erzurum and Eskişehir. Similarly, there was a 27% drop in air pollution in the capital Ankara and 11% in the largest city Istanbul.
Huseyin Toros, an expert in atmospheric science and air quality at Istanbul Technical University, said the world needed to focus on ensuring a long-term reduction in air pollution levels. "We need global efforts to raise awareness about how air pollution harms human health and the environment – and to ensure good air quality after the pandemic is over,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Pointing out that COVID-19 was primarily a respiratory disease, Toros said improved air quality could help the world win the fight against the novel coronavirus.
In an earlier interview with Anadolu Agency, he had said that the coronavirus lockdown was pushing the world towards a "reduction of emissions equivalent to that targeted in international climate agreements such as the Paris Agreement,” adding: "So, the outbreak has forced us to reduce emissions to a point where we may be able to meet the targets that we normally would not,” Toros said.
Turkey has recorded nearly 91,000 COVID-19 cases so far, with the death toll at 2,140 and over 13,400 recoveries. The novel coronavirus has spread to 185 countries and regions since emerging in China last December, with the U.S. and Europe being the hardest-hit areas in the world.
Nearly 2.5 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll over 171,000 and recoveries near 660,000, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.