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Air Pollution Analysis - Büşra Öztürk

Air pollution, which is a silent killer, threads lives worldwide and creates dangers that can lead to death. Air pollution consists of releasing pollutants into the atmosphere that is harmful to human health and the environment as a whole. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about seven million people die each year due to air pollution. WHO also states that air pollution is cancer's most important environmental cause. Moreover, air quality is inextricably linked to the earth's climate and ecosystems, which makes to be directly related to the problem of climate change.

There are many causes of air pollution. The developing industrial ventures that use fossil fuels have played a significant role in increasing air pollution. It is because the combustion of fossil fuels emits gases and chemicals into the atmosphere. Furthermore, Climate and Clean Energy specialists declare that air pollution is also caused by energy use and production. In a particularly destructive feedback loop, air pollution contributes to and exacerbates climate change. In other words, there is a cycle in the relationship between climate change and air pollution such that while co2 causes climate change, climate change causes air pollution.

Many of the drivers of air pollution, which consist of particles produced by the combustion of fossil fuels, are also sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The suspended particles may arise from car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores, etc. The noted pollutants are Black Carbon (BC), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2). Additionally, particular substances (PM2.5 and PM10) are the most threatening elements of human health for air pollution. WHO declared them carcinogens in 2013 since prolonged exposure to high levels of particles weakens the lungs' ability to clear infections and reduces their ability to fight infection due to compromised immunity.

The interesting fact is that CO2, which gets the most attention in climate change, is not considered a core parameter of the pollutant index as much as other pollutants. CO2 is the most concerned gas because CO2 has caused most of the warming, and its influence is expected to continue. It is due to the structure of CO2. It enables trapping the heat coming from the sun like the glass of a greenhouse by letting sunlight pass through the atmosphere. The concept of a greenhouse's warm interior is simply a metaphor for how gases in the atmosphere keep the earth's surface warm. As the density of co2 increases, more heat is kept inside the earth's atmosphere. If CO2 were lacking, there would be an ice age since enough heat could not be drawn from the sun. Hence, the world needs an incredibly delicate balance. CO2 is not a directly killer gas as the other greenhouse gases. For instance, while at 40,000 ppm (parts per million), CO2 can be life-threatening, concentrations above 800 ppm can end life in minutes.

The pollutants that create air pollution are measured using air quality sensors sponsored by several companies. One of them is OpenAQ which presents a real-time and historical air quality platform, aggregating government-measured and research-grade data. The data is captured from multiple sources and accessible to all through an open-source platform. While you can access data around the world on this website, it is also possible to find data on different cities and regions of Turkey. I want to share some of the results of the current data analysis by basing a similar air pollution analysis shared on Kaggle.

Starting with the most threatening pollutant, PM10, it is possible to observe that the measured value of the presence of PM10 is changing around 40 ug/m3 (microgram/cubic meter) in Turkey. Those values are pretty higher than the measurements from reference-grade monitors in Europe. It is also interesting that Turkey has no blue points, which represent the presence of PM10 with less than ten ug/m3. The situation is similar to other pollutants such as CO, NO2, O3, and SO2. Another exciting result by considering the average air quality data is that Iğdır, Kocaeli, and Muğla are holding the top places on the leaderboard of the world air pollution. These results place Turkey in 7th place among the 42 countries in the European region with the most polluted air. For a healthy and livable Turkey, the authorities urgently need to take measures to increase environmental awareness and reduce pollutants.


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