TSKB Economic Research Highlights the Importance of Combatting Air Pollution with “Don’t Take My Breath Away” Report

12 December 2022
- 4 min. Read

In its report titled “Don’t Take My Breath Away” prepared with a focus on development, TSKB Economic Research draws attention to the effects of air pollution on human health, ecosystem, climate and economy. The report, which examines the importance and implications of air pollution in the world and in Türkiye, reveals with concrete data that air pollution and climate change are two different factors that trigger and link with each other. The report underlines that 300 million children around the world are exposed to air pollution 6 times higher than acceptable levels, and states that public and private sector collaborations as well as financing opportunities to be developed will support the improvement of air quality in Türkiye and the world.

TSKB Economic Research, which continues its studies on important issues on the national and global agenda with its team of experts, examines the economic and social impacts of air pollution from a development perspective in its new study titled “Don’t Take My Breath Away”. TSKB Economic Research presents research and findings as well as solutions for improving air quality.

“300 million children worldwide are exposed to air pollution 6 times higher than acceptable levels”

The report states that air pollution, which causes 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year, is recognized as one of the most important environmental health problems today. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), 300 million children worldwide are exposed to air pollution 6 times higher than acceptable levels. When this pollution reaches dangerous levels, it can cause an unplanned pause in education, negatively affecting children and young people. The report explains that air pollution is one of the major causes of health problems in Türkiye, as it is all over the world. According to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, air pollution is among the risk factors that bring together the most deaths and disabilities in Türkiye. It is noteworthy that air pollution, which ranked 6th in 2009 in the risk ranking, rose to 5th place in 2019. In contrast, the ‘Country Climate and Development Report’ on Türkiye, published by the World Bank in 2022, states that Türkiye has made progress in reducing air pollution. Concentrations of PM10 (particulate matter) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which refers to particles 10 microns and smaller such as dust, pollen and mold, are observed to decrease in line with Türkiye’s economic growth.

“Air pollution directly and indirectly affects the economy”

The report, which reveals that both the world and Türkiye have a long way to go in combating air pollution, draws attention to the importance of strengthening public and private sector cooperation. The study emphasizes that the steps that municipalities, companies and individuals will take together by taking responsibility will be effective, and with the addition of financing opportunities to be developed within the scope of combating air pollution, they will support the improvement of the air quality of the world and Türkiye. The report points out that the risks posed by air pollution should not be viewed only from a health and environmental perspective, and that air pollution also directly and indirectly affects the economy.

“Combating air pollution is closely linked to the Sustainable Development Goals”

According to the report, tackling air pollution is closely linked to almost all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) due to its connection to many development themes such as climate, water and natural resources. Within this general framework, it is directly related to Goals 3 - “Good Health and Well-Being”, 6 - “Clean Water and Sanitation”, 7 - “Affordable and Clean Energy”, 8 - “Decent Work and Economic Growth”, 11 - “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, 12 - “Responsible Consumption and Production”, 13 - “Climate Action”, 14 - “Life Below Water” and 15 - “Life on Land”. The “Don’t Take My Breath Away” report emphasizes the importance of securing healthy living and promoting happiness at all ages with the goal of “Good Health and Well-Being” and draws attention to the plan to reduce the number of diseases and deaths caused by harmful chemicals and air pollution by 2030.

Other highlights from the study are as follows:  

  • While there is a complex relationship between air pollution and climate change, this relationship has been dubbed the “two sides of the same coin”. Air pollution affects climate change and climate change triggers air pollution.
  • While developing countries struggle with higher levels of air pollution, the negative effects of air pollution are more tangible for women, children, the elderly and those in low-income groups.
  • Wildfires, which are increasing in number due to climate change, exacerbate air pollution in surrounding areas and affect regional air quality.
  • Annual labor income losses due to global premature deaths from air pollution reached nearly USD 179 billion in 2015, up from USD 47 billion in 1995.
  • The loss of welfare due to premature deaths caused by air pollution is projected to increase from USD 3.16 trillion in 2015 to USD 18.3-25.3 trillion in 2060.
  • Air pollution causes a reduction in agricultural yields, which depend on air quality. Many developing countries have been experiencing the negative effects of industrial developments and increasing urbanization on agriculture.
  • The “World Air Quality Report 2021” prepared by IQAir states that the country with the highest average PM2.5 concentration is Bangladesh with 76.9 µg/m3. Türkiye ranks 46th among 117 countries with a value of 20.0 μg/m3.
  • Current data on 26 cities in Türkiye, used in the study prepared for the report, do not indicate a direct relationship between production and air pollution indicators. This implies that production can be increased without increasing air pollution.

You can access the full report from the link below: