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Sound and independent information
on the environment


SOER Country

Air pollution (Turkey)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Air pollution could cause both health impacts to human and damage to vegetation and ecosystems due to exposure with harmful pollutants. The main sources of air pollution are SOX, NOX and PM10 generated by many anthropogenic effects. In Turkey most of the air pollution is caused by household heating and traffic, as well as that in industrial sites emissions aroused from many industrial activities have an additional proportion in this schema.

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Air pollution is one of the most significant problems in Turkey likewise other countries. The main reasons for this could be summed up as; rapid increase of population, energy consumption due to industry and housing and increasing fuel demand for vehicles.


Trends in sulphur dioxide and particulate matter concentrations in some metropolitan cities of Turkey are given above. While these graphics are examined, in general, decrease in the major pollutants has been observed.


Trends in reducing annual average concentrations of SO2 and particulate matter (PM10) in cities showed overall progress between 2002 and 2008. In cities such as İstanbul, Ankara, Gaziantep, Samsun, Sivas and Diyarbakir pollutant concentrations decreased, particularly during winter seasons, in some cities from levels over 260 μg/m3. This progress reflects major changes in energy supply for domestic heating, with i) natural gas substituting for coal in a number of cities and ii) prohibition of the use of high-sulphur coal in 2005. Average annual concentrations of SO2 and PM10 are below the long-term target limit value.

However, in cities where industry has continued to expand (e.g. Bursa, Denizli, Kayseri and Kütahya), SO2 and PM10 concentrations have not decreased. Average winter concentrations have exceeded long-term target limit value, and average concentrations of SO2 and PM10 have remained above the WHO guideline of, respectively, 20 and 50 μg/m3.

Energy Supply by Source, 1990-2005

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

It is considered that in the decrease of major pollutants, the type of energy sources have an impact. Turkey achieved a strong decoupling of SO2 and CO emissions from economic development. The use of high-sulphur coal in residential heating has been prohibited, and its substitution by gas (mostly from Russia and Iran) has expanded in urban areas. Turkey has also developed significant lignite washing capacity. Energy intensity has improved, and air quality concerns have been better integrated into energy policies. The new Energy Efficiency Law and the Law on Utilisation of Renewable Energy Resources for Generating Electricity aim to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables. There are lower tax rates for natural gas, LPG and bio-diesel. Part of these changes was brought about by the new regulations on air emissions from stationary sources. All coal fired power plants have been equipped with flue gas desulphurisation units. In the transport sector, several new regulations on emissions from motor vehicles and quality standards for motor fuels have promoted vehicle fleet renewal, with an increasing proportion of the car fleet being equipped with catalytic converters. The use of leaded gasoline was banned in 2004.


Although SOx standards for emissions from medium-sized solid fuel plants were strengthened, emission standards for power plants using high-sulphur oil are still lenient compared to EU regulations. After a notable drop in 2000-01, both road freight and passenger traffics have increased rapidly and are a major source of air pollution, including in urban centres. Taxes on some motor fuels and vehicles still do not reflect their impact on air quality. For example, the tax rate for high-sulphur diesel fuel is lower than for fuel with a low sulphur content. CO2 emissions have continued to increase. There are cross-subsidies concerning electricity prices. Even though Turkey is the first country in Europe that uses solar energy for heating (e.g. water heating) on a wide scale the large potential for use of heat from renewables (geothermal, solar thermal and biomass) has not been effectively utilised. Despite major upgrading of the rail network, railway freight traffic has not increased and railway passenger traffic has decreased.


An important impetus to strengthen air management policy in the review period came from the EU accession negotiation process. In 2007, Turkey adopted its EU Integrated Environmental Strategy which, inter alia, called for the full harmonisation of the Turkish legal framework with the EU Air Quality Framework Directive (and its four sister Directives), the EU Fuel Quality Directive, and other Directives related to climate change and the availability of consumer information on fuel economy and CO2 emissions from new vehicles.


Household supply of natural gas has risen rapidly and is now around 25% of TPES. Until recently, only five cities had gas distribution systems. Between 2004 and 2006, licenses were awarded to private investors for building and operating “greenfield” gas distribution systems in 31 additional cities; 20 of these cities are reported to have started to use natural gas. It is expected that with the supply of gas to these cities, natural gas demand will rise sharply in the short to medium term.


The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Turkey has included use of renewable energy resources such as geothermal energy, solar power, hydropower, wind power, wood and bio fuels in its policies and these will support the efforts for reducing air pollution. Besides geographic location of Turkey creates a huge potential for generation of renewable energy.


Together with initiatives aiming effective use of renewable, the public institutions and NGOs are working closely in order to raise awareness of the public on reducing waste and using renewable energy effectively.

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The transposition of Ambient Air Quality Framework Directive (96/62/EC) and daughter Directives (99/30/EC, 2000/69/EC, 2002/3/EC, 2004/107/EC) into national legislation was completed on 06 June 2008 by the publication of the By-law on Ambient Air Quality Assessment and Management (Official Gazette: 06 June 2008, no 26898). The new By-law is fully in line with the Directives. The By-law includes the implementation calendar for 13 different pollutants defined in the framework directive and daughter directives. The By-law also covers necessary instruments such as clean air and action plans to improve air quality, while aiming at monitoring, sanctioning and institutional strengthening in the field of air pollution control and air quality.


For the implementation and enforcement of the By-law on Air Quality Assessment and Management in Turkey, the Strategy Document was prepared in the scope of “Support to Turkey in the Field of Air Quality, Chemicals and Waste Management Project” funded under 2004 Pre-accession Financial Assistance Programme. Based on the acquis, this strategy document includes the requirements on air quality in Turkey, and necessary institutional capacity which should be established, and a road map has also been drawn for the assessment and management of air quality. Eight regional monitoring networks including eight regional clean air centres are defined for air quality management, operation of the regional monitoring network, regional analysis, emission modelling, assessment and planning. In addition, the number of monitoring stations in Turkey is planned to be increased to the number which is foreseen in the Directives for the establishment of air quality monitoring stations by 2014.


2014 is envisaged as starting date in the By-law for the implementation in order to accomplish the necessary institutional capacity and technical infrastructure. During this phase, the air quality limit values in the previous By-law on air quality will gradually be decreased so as to protect the human health and environment. 


EU air quality limit values plus margin of tolerance will start to be applied in 2014 and then the limit values will be met by decreasing the values of margin of tolerance, thus, smooth and gradual implementation will be achieved. The final date, which differs according to parameters, for the attainment to the EU limit values, varies between 2014-2024. These dates have been formulated in the By-law considering the dates for the attainments given in the daughter Directives.


MoEF is currently working on the preparation of the Air Quality Action Plan at national level and afterwards, detailed air quality plans at regional / local scale will be developed according to the results of preliminary assessment studies to be performed. The preliminary assessment studies for the whole of Turkey are expected to be finalised until 2014.


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
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