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Urban Renewal in Istanbul
Jan 19, 2023
The municipal administrative team were accused of failing to enforce regulations intended to prevent asbestos exposures during demolition work on old buildings in the Karanfilköy neighborhood of Beşiktaş, in Istanbul. Local residents said that despite the presence of asbestos-containing material in the buildings, no warnings had been given by the municipality and no steps had been taken to minimize the liberation of carcinogenic fibers during the building work. See: Kansere davetiye gibi yıkım pes dedirtti [Destruction, like an invitation to cancer, made one give up].
Asbestos and Urban Transformation
Oct 19, 2022
The huge pace of urban transformation in Turkey continues, with questions being asked about the negative impact on the population of failures to implement health and safety measures. The ubiquity of asbestos material in buildings being demolished necessitates the use of special precautions under expert supervision and in accordance with strict guidelines. Without this, asbestos fibers can be liberated and become a danger to demolition and construction workers as well as local people. See: Kentsel dönüşüm ve çevre sağlığı [Urban transformation and environmental health].
Sep, 14, 2022
The pubic outcry in Turkey over plans to import an asbestos-laden Brazilian warship for scrapping at an Izmir ship-breaking facility has raised the profile of the asbestos hazard. Following on from the successful campaign to reject the toxic ship, questions are now being asked about the dangers posed by demolishing or renovating asbestos-containing buildings. The author of the text cited below called on municipal and federal authorities to act urgently to prevent asbestos pollution by implementing and enforcing regulations to control urban transformation projects. See: Kentsel dönüşümde kanser riski! [Cancer risk in urban transformation!].
Civil Society Victory!
Sep 3, 2022
On August 26, 2022 after huge protests throughout Turkey over plans to import the renegade Brazilian warship the Sao Paulo for scrapping in Izmir, Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum announced a U-turn on official policy and withdrew permission for the vessel to enter Turkish territorial waters. Groups campaigning on behalf of the environment, health and safety, local communities and medical professionals welcomed the news, affirming their position that the dumping of toxic waste in Turkey was unacceptable. See: Asbestli Brezilya gemisi Türkiye karasularına sokulmayacak [Brazilian ship with asbestos will not enter Turkish territorial waters].
Izmir Protest: “We Will Stop!”
Aug 30, 2022
On August 23, 2022, members of grassroots associations, and environmental organizations were joined by local politicians at a high-profile demonstration in front of the Alsancak Türkan Saylan Cultural Center against plans to import the asbestos-laden former Brazilian warship the Sao Paulo to Turkey for dismantling at a ship dismantling yard in Aliağa. The slogan for the day was “We will stop” the poison from entry; protestors held up placards with these words on them and also applied the words to visible body parts to reinforce their message. The protest was shown live on social media platforms. See: Ölüm Gemisini Durduracağiz Platformu’ndan protesto [Protest from the We Will Stop the Death Ship Platform].
The Illegal Departure of the Sao Paulo
Aug 15, 2022
Many of the key facts and issues regarding the sale of the Brazilian aircraft carrier the Sao Paulo to a Turkish buyer were examined in the article cited below. Legal steps taken to stop the departure of the ship included an August 4, 2022 injunction by the 16th Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro ordering the ship to return to the Port of Rio de Janeiro. This ruling was obtained by the Brazilian Institute of Lawyers (IAB). The ship did not return. A spokesperson for the Brazilian Association of Asbestos Victims said: “In our view, it is a crime against the environment that the Brazilian authorities allowed an asbestos-containing aircraft carrier to sail towards Turkey despite all risks.” See: Asbestli Gemi Brezilya’da da Tartışılıyor [Asbestos Ship Discussed in Brazil].
National Asbestos Controversy
Aug 11, 2022
The escalating controversy over plans to send an asbestos-laden former Brazilian warship to a Turkish scrapping yard has generated a wider debate about the country’s ongoing failures to address the asbestos hazard despite the fact that Turkey officially banned asbestos in 2010. Asbestos-containing products – such as fireproofing tapes, gloves, wire, gaskets etc. – can still be purchased in Turkey from online shopping sites. According to the Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters' Association, 21 Turkish companies exported asbestos-containing products worth $27,200 dollars in January 2022. These illegal actions are possible due to a lack of government oversight and import/export controls. See: Türkiye’nin asbest tablosu [Turkey's asbestos table].
Asbestos Hazard to the Aegean
Aug 3, 2022
The Greek language article cited below highlighted the implications for the Aegean region of the import of a toxic Brazilian warship to Turkey. The Sao Paulo is due to set sail on August 5; there could be around 900 tonnes of asbestos on board. The ship was purchased by a Turkish company which applied for and was granted permission to scrap it in Aliağa. Campaigners who are trying to block this illegal international transfer of hazardous waste argue that the Ministerial permission obtained was based on paperwork that was both incomplete and incorrect. See: Πως η Τουρκία απειλεί την υγεία των νησιωτών μας προξενώντας παράλληλα τεράστια οικολογική καταστροφή στο Αιγαίο [How Turkey threatens the health of our islanders while at the same time causing a huge ecological disaster in the Aegean].
Say No to Toxic Brazilian Export
Aug 2, 2022
In a joint press release by Turkey’s Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK) and Brazil’s Confederation of Trade Unions (CUT), the organizations pledged to fight plans to export the asbestos-laden former warship the São Paulo from Brazil to Turkey to protect shipbreaking workers in Turkey, members of the public and the environment. DISK and CUT called on their respective governments to “carry out impartial and transparent inspections and to comply with international conventions.” See: “CUT ve DİSK olarak asbestin ve gemi söküm işlemlerinin işçilere, halk sağlığına ve çevreye verdiği zararlara karşı birlikte mücadele edeceğiz!” [“CUT and DISK will fight together against the damage caused by asbestos and shipbreaking processes to workers, public health and the environment!”].
Protest over Arrival of Brazilian Warship
Jul 29, 2022
On July 28, 2022, there was a demonstration by the People's Liberation Party (HKP) outside the Aliağa headquarters of the company which plans to dismantle a Brazilian warship which is due for arrival in Turkey within the next few weeks. The vessel – most recently called the São Paulo – contains more than 600 tonnes of asbestos. HKP members and supporters object to the import of the toxic ship and are calling for Ministers to rescind permission for its import into the country. See: HKP'den asbestli gemiyi sökecek şirketin önünde protesto: 'İnsanlık suçu işlemekteler' [Protest in front of the company that will dismantle the ship with #asbestos from HKP: 'They are committing crimes against humanity'].
Contaminated Ship gets Import Licence
Jul 21, 2022
The São Paulo, a former Brazilian aircraft carrier purchased on March 12, 2021 by a Turkish shipbreaking company, is on its way to Aliağa after the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change on May 30, 2022 approved an import license submitted by the purchaser Sök Denizcilik. People living near the Aliağa shipbreaking yards, environmental campaigners, technical experts and politicians had been campaigning to block the import of the vessel which contained an estimated 600 tonnes of asbestos-containing material and, which they alleged, constituted an environmental and ecological time bomb. See: Asbest yüklü gemi Aliağa’ya getiriliyor: Toplu katliam demek [Asbestos-laden ship is brought to Aliağa: It means mass murder].
Asbestos Alert in İzmir
Jul 5, 2022
News was circulated last week confirming the dangerous consequences for workers and communities located near Turkish shipbreaking facilities. When tested by a laboratory, samples taken of suspect material from a vessel at the Kılıçlar yard in İzmir-Aliağa were found to be amosite (brown) asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen. See: İşçiler numuneyi gizlice gönderdi, laboratuvarda en tehlikeli asbest türü olduğu ortaya çıktı: İzmir-Aliağa’da Kılıçlar firması işçilere çıplak elle asbestli gemi söktürüyor [Workers secretly sent sample which turned out to be the most dangerous type of asbestos in the laboratory: Kılıçlar firm in İzmir-Aliağa has workers dismantle asbestos ships with bare hands].
Asbestos Alert in Aliağa
Jun 27, 2022
Technical experts and trade unionists last week announced that the dismantling by the Kiliçlar shipbreaking company of the ship named Gökhan Han in the Turkish city of Aliağa had been undertaken without precautions or measures to prevent toxic exposures to asbestos-containing material on board the vessel. Concerns over the inadequacy of the working conditions led to samples being taken which, when analysed in a laboratory, confirmed the presence of amosite (brown) asbestos in the suspect material. See: ASUD ve EİB açıkladı: Asbestli 'Gökhan Han' gemisi Aliağa'da sökülüyor [ASUD and EİB announced: Asbestos ship 'Gökhan Han' is being dismantled in Aliağa].
Asbestos Hazard in Shipbreaking Yards
Jun 1, 2022
Asbestos contamination and the dangers arising from it are of serious concern to Turkish shipbreaking workers and people living in communities near the shipyards. In the commentary cited below, Health and Safety Specialist Şenay K. Özdoğan answered questions about the public and occupational health hazard posed by asbestos; explaining the type of asbestos fibers, the cancers and diseases which can be caused by inhalation of these fibers and the need to follow strict guidelines and mandatory regulations during shipbreaking operations to minimize the liberation of asbestos fibers. See: Asbest işlerinde işçi sağlığı ve iş güvenliği [Occupational health and safety in asbestos works].
Dangerous Developments in Ankara
Mar 31, 2022
The Ankara Cement Factory is due for demolition as part of a huge regeneration plan which will include the construction of a residential area, commercial units and a special education zone. The overlapping involvement of local and regional public institutions has been problematic, say technical experts concerned about the asbestos fallout from the demolition of this factory which will, they say, endanger local people as well as construction workers, harm the ecosystem and pollute the environment via contamination of air, soil, rivers and lakes. See: Uzmanlar: Ankara Çimento Fabrikası yıkılırsa asbest yayılacak [Experts: Asbestos will spread if Ankara Cement Factory is destroyed].
Public Asbestos Hazard Protest
Mar 21, 2022
Last week, campaigners and local people demonstrated outside Izmir’s shuttered Buca Prison to highlight the environmental health hazard posed by the destruction of a huge building which had not undergone any asbestos removal work. The protestors called on the Turkish authorities to stop the work and ensure that all health and safety regulations were observed on the site. Asbestos-containing building products were used in the construction in 1959 of the prison. See: Buca Cezaevi'nde asbest tehlikesi: Halkın sağlığını, ranta kurban etmeyin [The danger of asbestos in Buca Prison: Do not sacrifice public health for profit].
Asbestos Hazard and Urban Regeneration
Mar 16, 2022
Turkish asbestos technical experts have raised the alarm about the demolition of Izmir’s Buca Prison which began on March 4. The facility was closed by the Ministry of Justice in 2021 and was believed to be contaminated with asbestos. Calls have been made for the local authorities to disclose information contained on the mandatory pre-demolition asbestos audit to reassure local people that asbestos is not being liberated into the environment by the construction work as photos shared on social media seem to indicate that “no precautions were taken” to prevent the spread of toxic fibers. See: Buca Cezaevi yıkımında 'asbest' şüphesi: Belediye asbest envanter raporunu açıklasın çağrısı [Suspicion of ‘asbestos’ in Buca Prison demolition: Call for municipality to publish asbestos inventory report].
Asbestos Cancer Audit
Mar 15, 2022
After reviewing data collected between 1970 and 2000, Turkish academic and chest specialist Prof. Dr. Lüfti Kapaklü concluded that 100,000 people in 400 villages, mainly in Central Anatolia and eastern Turkey, were affected by asbestos exposures. According to the Professor, the Central Anatolian provinces of Kütahya, Ankara, Çankiri, Yozgat, Çorum, Sivas and eastern provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakır and Elazığ were cancer hotspots because of exposures to asbestos used in the wall plaster and roofing of village houses and because of the presence of naturally occurring asbestos in the region. See: Türkiye'de 400 köy asbest yüzünden kanserli [400 villages in Turkey with cancer due to asbestos].
Strike at 22 Ship Recycling Yards
Feb 21, 2022
A strike which started last week brought most of the work at the Aliağa ship recycling yards in Turkey’s İzmir Province to a standstill. The strikers were calling for improved conditions, including the supply of personal protective equipment and more investment in workplace health and safety, and higher pay for the dangerous work they do. Protesters congregated in front of the offices of the Ship Recycler's Association to issue their demands. Aliağa’s cancer rates are much higher than the Turkish average due, campaigners say, to occupational and environmental exposures to carcinogens contained on the ships being scrapped. See: Ship recycling workers’ protest shakes Aliağa.
Lowering Lung Cancer Rates
Feb 16, 2022
Actions put in place as a result of research started in the 1970s by Prof. Dr. Selahattin Yazıcıoğlu has resulted in lowering the rates of lung cancer amongst populations living in the Turkish districts of Çermik, Çüngüş, Ergani and elsewhere The Professor discovered that a local custom for decorating houses with a “limestone-like soil called white plaster” was implicated in the elevated incidence of cancer as it contained asbestos fibers. Eliminating the use of this material and facilitating the construction of concrete buildings have proved to be beneficial. See: Diyarbakır’da akciğer kanser vakaları azaldı [Lung cancer cases decreased in Diyarbakir].
Progressing Occupational Safety
Feb 15, 2022
At a meeting in Turkey last week Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari, President of the Turkish Federation of Occupational Health and Safety Associations and the Asbestos Removal Experts Association updated Mr. Erinç Sağkan, President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, about current occupational health and safety developments with a focus on asbestos. President Sagkan committed his association to supporting efforts being taken to safeguard citizens from toxic exposures to asbestos in Turkey. See: Türkiye Barolar Birliği'nden İSG'ye destek sözü [Promise of support to OHS from the Union of Turkish Bar Associations].
Alert over Istanbul Regeneration
Jan 17, 2022
The article cited below, which was uploaded on January 11, 2022, raised the alarm over the failure to control the asbestos hazard caused by the demolition of a toxic factory in Istanbul and the uncontrolled disposal of the hazardous waste from the site. Five thousand workers used to be employed at the site of the 26,000 m2 Aksu Yarn Factory; developers have plans to construct luxury housing once the area has been cleared. Asbestos specialists estimate that there is 350 tons of asbestos waste on the site. Government regulations and guidelines for asbestos removal are, they say, not being followed. See: Yıkılan iplik fabrikasından açığa çıkan asbest, kamyonlarla İstanbul’a yayılıyor [Asbestos released from the destroyed yarn factory spreads to Istanbul with trucks].
Asbestos and Urban Transformation
Nov 25, 2021
Turkish politician and Vice President of the Republican People’s Party Gürsel Tekin issued warnings this week of the danger posed by uncontrolled urban transformation projects which liberate toxic asbestos fibers from old buildings being renovated or demolished. “Public health is,” he said “under serious threat.” Questions he put to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization focused on renewal projects underway in the Istanbul district of Fikirtepe. Tekin wanted to know: what precautions were being taken by contractors, what environmental supervision was in place, what documentation existed about mandatory checks of asbestos levels. See: Gürsel Tekin: “Kentsel dönüşüm, kentsel felakete dönüşmesin” [Gürsel Tekin: “Urban transformation should not turn into an urban disaster”].
Asbestos Alert in Turkey!
Nov 3, 2021
A commentary on the problems caused by urban transformation projects which liberate asbestos into the environment due to illegal working practices included input from Professor Asli Odman, Asbestos Removal Specialist Kenan Yıldız and Geology Engineer Eşref Atabey. Although the use of asbestos was banned in Turkey in 2010, loopholes persist which result in toxic exposures to workers as well as members of the public. In addition to exposures from toxic material incorporated within the country’s infrastructure, naturally occurring asbestos continues to endanger the health of 72,000 Turkish citizens living in hundreds of villages throughout the country. See: Köylerden kentlere asbest artık her yerde [From villages to cities, asbestos is now everywhere].
Dangerous Demolition Practices
Nov 1, 2021
Ecologist and İzmir Deputy Murat Çepni last week called for action on the illegal demolition of buildings that contained asbestos material. The rapid pace of urban transformation projects and the laxity of enforcement of regulations had opened loopholes which had allowed dangerous practices to persist. It was essential, according to the Deputy, to hold a parliamentary investigation regarding the public health and environmental problems caused by the uncontrolled demolition of buildings which contained asbestos. See: Çepni: 2010'da yasaklanan ve kansere neden olan asbest, hala kullanıliyor! [Çepni: Banned in 2010 and causing cancer, asbestos is still used!].
Compulsory Asbestos Audits
Oct 18, 2021
On October 14, 2021 the publication of a long-awaited Regulation on Demolition of Buildings which mandates that asbestos audits be carried out prior to the commencement of any building or demolition work in Turkey was welcomed by asbestos removal experts. The new regulations will come into force on July 1, 2022, six months later than originally planned. See: Asbest Söküm Uzmanları Derneği Başkanı Ensari: Denetime Gelen Müfettişler Bile Asbestin Ne Olduğunu Bilmiyor [Asbestos Removal Specialists Association President Ensari: Even the inspectors who come to do the inspection don’t know what asbestos is].
Maltepe Asbestos Audit Program
Oct 15, 2021
As a result of the widespread use of asbestos-containing products in Turkey, much of the country’s built environment remains contaminated. Regulations intended to prevent toxic exposures to building and demolition workers are routinely ignored. An asbestos inspection program set up in 2016 in Maltepe, a district in Istanbul, however, has identified asbestos in 1,925 properties prior to allowing demolition work to begin. The program operates under the auspices of the Directorate of Environmental Protection and Control and employs two asbestos removal experts to conduct asbestos audits. See: Maltepe asbest denetiminde örnek ilçe [Sample district in Maltepe asbestos inspection].
Environmental and Urban Contamination
Sep 17, 2021
Asbestos technical specialists have, once again, denounced continued failures by government officials in Turkey to address problems caused by asbestos exposures especially during urban renewal projects. Another challenge in Turkey is the ubiquity of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) which endangers the lives of people living in many rural communities. Plans announced in the “Turkey Cancer Control Program 2013-2018,” to address this dangerous situation have not been implemented. New research has identified even more settlements affected by NOA. Whereas the earlier plan listed 19 affected villages in Elazig, asbestos was found in the soil of 103 Elazig villages. See: Asbest Türkiye'nin yeni Çernobil'i olabilir..! [Asbestos could be Turkey's new Chernobyl..!].
Ankara Asbestos Initiative
Sep 13, 2021
An innovative educational meeting to inform municipal civil servants and officers of the asbestos hazard was held under the auspices of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality. The content of the “Asbestos Awareness Training for Local Governments” program was provided by the Asbestos Dismantling Experts Association of Turkey whose President Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari thanked the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality for setting an example for other provinces by recognizing the critical role that local and regional authorities had to play in protecting people from toxic exposures especially during urban renewal, renovation and demolition work. See: Farkındalık eğitimi [Awareness Training].
Environmental Contamination in Aliağa
Aug 30, 2021
According to a report issued last week, the presence of airborne chrysotile asbestos fibers had been found in the Turkish town of Aliağa, home to several yards which dismantle ships. The environmental contamination was confirmed following tests conducted on samples taken on July 27, 2021 by a specialist asbestos contractor. The ship dismantling and recycling works were not the only source of asbestos; urban transformation activities and industrial production also contributed to the environmental contamination, said the report’s author. Another more comprehensive study is being planned. See: Aliağa’da asbest tespit edildi [Asbestos detected in Aliağa].
Opposition to São Paulo’s Arrival
Aug 24, 2021
The hot potato which is the São Paulo, a former Brazilian warship destined for dismantling in Turkey, continues to cause dissension. A report submitted by a Committee of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Assembly highlighted the fact that Turkey was one of the few countries in the world where ship dismantling was carried out “using wild [brute-force, unregulated] techniques.” The authors of the report concluded that Turkey should not import other people’s garbage. Commenting on the publication. Hakan Barçin, Chairman of the Committee, said that he was against bringing the São Paulo to Turkey. See: ‘Dünyanın çöplüğü olmaktan kurtaralım’ [‘Let's save it (Turkey) from being the garbage dump of the world’].
Asbestos Hazard Posed by Power Plant
Aug 10, 2021
Often in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters comes news of environmental asbestos contamination. The fires in the Muğla's Milas district of Turkey have led to statements from asbestos experts about the likelihood of asbestos contamination caused by damage to the Kemerköy Thermal Power Plant. The experts warned that in the event that the plant was affected, firefighters should use specialist equipment to prevent inhalation of carcinogenic fibers. See: Termik santraldeki görünmez tehlike. Uzmanı uyardı [Invisible danger in thermal power plant. Warning from expert].
Scandal: False Document, Public Hazard
Aug 4, 2021
The President of the Turkish Association of Asbestos Removal Experts Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari has exposed a scandal whereby experts have been falsifying documentation, saying no asbestos was present in order to facilitate the demolition of buildings in the country’s capital, Ankara and in the cities of Çankaya and Yenimahalle despite the known risks of asbestos exposures and Turkish regulations mandating that asbestos surveys and removal be carried out prior to any demolition work. See: Ankara'da asbest alarmı | ASUD Başkanı Ensari: Denetim yok, raporlar sahte [Asbestos alarm in Ankara | ASUD President Ensari: No inspection, reports are fake].
Asbestos Remediation in Capital City
Jul 27, 2021
To protect public health from toxic exposures, the General Directorate of Ankara Water and Sewerage Administration is progressing efforts to replace 40-year old asbestos-containing pipes in the water delivery system of the Turkish capital. Polyethylene pipes are being laid by the Water and Channel Construction Department of Ankara’s mains water line. The current phase of the program will deliver safe water to homes where more than 200,000 people live. The work to eradicate asbestos water pipes in all of Ankara is due to be completed by the end of 2021. See: Başkentte asbestli boruların değiştirilmesi çalışmaları devam ediyor [Work continues in the capital to replace asbestos pipes].
Jul 10, 2021
A very interesting paper by Turkish and Swedish scientists examined the rate of mesothelioma amongst a cohort of Turkish immigrants to Sweden, some of who had lived in Karain, a village in Turkey which has an extraordinarily high incidence of mesothelioma due to naturally occurring erionite. The cohort was divided into people who had lived in Karain (the erionite-exposed) and those who had not (the erionite-unexposed). The 44 patients in the cohort of 337 who had contracted mesothelioma had been exposed to erionite in Karain. The researchers concluded that: “Exposure to erionite is the leading cause of mesothelioma in Karain villagers, and genetic factors are probably of minor importance.” See: Mesothelioma in immigrants from Turkey: Genes have a minor role.
Asbestos Hazard for Shipbreakers
Jun 24, 2021
The prosperity of ship dismantling companies in Turkey is built on an acceptance of conditions which are hazardous both to workers and the environment. The impending arrival of the São Paulo – an asbestos-laden Brazilian ship – to Izmir for dismantling has highlighted the unacceptable disconnect between technical documentation and workplace reality even at the eight Aliağa yards which are on the European List of approved ship recycling facilities. In a recent parliamentary response, the government admitted that between 2016 and 2021, 714 ships were dismantled which contained 242 tons of asbestos. This figure was preposterously low; the destination of the asbestos waste from these ships remains unknown. See: BU GEMİ BİR KARA TABUT [This Ship is a Black Coffin].
The Sao Paulo: Asbestos Hot Potato
Jun 14, 2021
A meeting of the Aliağa Municipal Council that took place last week continued discussions over the purchase by a Turkish company of an asbestos-contaminated warship formerly belonging to the Brazilian Navy. The vessel is scheduled to be scrapped at a dismantling yard in the Aliağa district of İzmir. The councillors considered a June 2021 proposal submitted to the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to investigate the damage ship-breaking had done to the sea, air, water, soil and ecosystem in the region where operations are carried out. See: CHP'den önerge: 600 ton asbest taşıyan ölüm gemisi ve Aliağa araştırılsın [Proposal from CHP: The death ship carrying 600 tons of asbestos and Aliağa (ship-breaking) should be investigated].
Jun 10, 2021
Campaigners in Turkey have named government ministries and municipalities whose negligence has contributed to the country’s ongoing scandal over asbestos exposures due to demolition or refurbishment of asbestos-containing buildings, dismantling of asbestos-laden ships and continued sale and use of illegal asbestos-containing products. The guilty parties included: the Ministries of: Health; Environment and Urbanization; Industry and Technology; Commerce; Labor and Social Security: Workplaces; National Education; Interior; Transport and Infrastructure. See: Bakanlıklar katil toz asbestle mücadelede sorumluluktan kaçıyor [Ministries evade responsibility in tackling killer powder asbestos].
Protesting Local Shipbreaking Plan
Jun 7, 2021
On June 5 – World Environment Day – a rally was held in Democracy Square in the Aliağa district of the Turkish City of İzmir by civil society groups and political parties objecting to the impending arrival of the asbestos-laden São Paulo, a Brazilian warship due to be scrapped at a local shipbreaking yard. Participants carried banners with slogans such as “Aliağa is not the world’s garbage dump” and “We do not want to breathe asbestos” and issued a statement condemning “ecological massacres” in Aliağa and the deadly consequences for human beings as well as the environment. See: Çevre örgütlerinden asbestli gemi sökümüne tepki: Aliağa dünyanın çöplüğü değildir [Reaction from environmental organizations to asbestos ship dismantling: Aliağa is not the world's garbage dump].
Toxic Baby Powder
Jun 7, 2021
In the aftermath of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week which resulted in a $2.1 billion compensation award for ovarian cancer victims being upheld, questions were being asked in Turkey about whether the same toxic product implicated in the U.S. cancer case – Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder – was being used in Turkey. A study of baby powder conducted three years ago in Turkey found asbestos fibers in four products. According to this article, appropriate action was taken by the Government at that time. See: Bebek pudrasında ''asbest'' tehlikesi... Türkiye'de kullanılıyor mu? [The danger of “asbestos” in baby powder... Is it used in Turkey?].
Sao Paulo Hot Potato!
Jun 1, 2021
The controversy over the dismantling in Turkey of the Sao Paulo, a former Brazilian warship, shows no signs of abating. İzmir Deputy Murat Bakan sought updates from officials representing four ministries regarding the current situation. The response he received from Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu was that “İzmir cannot be turned into a waste dump for the world.” According to the Ministry of Transport, the shipbreaker had not yet requested permission to bring the vessel to Turkey. See: CHP’li Bakan: Tehlikeli atıkları kentimizde istemiyoruz! [CHP Minister: We do not want hazardous waste in our city!]
İzmir Mayor: Asbestos Alert
Jun 1, 2021
Responding to growing concerns, including high-profile warnings from leading medical authorities, over the impending arrival of a former Brazilian warship for dismantling in an Aliağa shipyard, the İzmir Metropolitan Mayor Tunç Soyer confirmed that the authorities were aware of the hazards posed by the presence of asbestos and other toxic waste onboard and that his office would study the implications of bringing the ship to Turkey. As the ship’s departure from Brazil is due to take place this month, the Mayor will have to take a stance on this issue sooner rather than later. See: Soyer: Asbest iddiası incelenmeli [Soyer: Asbestos claim needs to be examined].
Calls to Enforce Asbestos Ban
May 26, 2021
Although asbestos was banned in Turkey in 2010, the sale of asbestos-containing products such as gloves and wire mats continues in markets and via online portals. Last week, the President of the Association of Asbestos Removal Experts Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari called on the government and trade unions to take urgent steps to protect public and occupational health and identify toxic imports and ensure they were withdrawn from sale. He called on the Turkish trade unions to prioritize work to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst their members. See: ASUD'dan asbest uyarısı: Şirketler satıyor, bakanlıklar göz yumuyor [Asbestos warning from ASUD: Companies sell, ministries condone].
Toxic Urban Transformation
May 18, 2021
According to asbestos experts, the use of fake asbestos reports was rife amongst developers engaged in urban transformation projects in Turkey. These phony certificates were submitted prior to or even after the demolition of old buildings, most of which contained asbestos. Inspectors would sign off on the projects without ever seeing the building site or inspecting the structures earmarked for demolition. These dangerous practices were widespread and could be one explanation for the increase in the cancer incidence in every region in Turkey, said one technical expert. See: Kentsel dönüşüm kapsamında yıkılan binalar için sahte asbest raporları hazırlanıyor [Fake asbestos reports are prepared for buildings destroyed during urban transformation].
No to the Sao Paulo!
May 17, 2021
Opposition continues to grow in Turkey over plans to bring a former Brazilian warship to Izmir for dismantling. According to Turkish experts, the import of this asbestos-laden ship will have serious human, environmental and ecological repercussions. The ship was bought at auction by Cormack Marítima, operating in Rio de Janeiro, on behalf of SÖK Shipping; it will be sent to Aliağa for dismantling in June 2021. According to Izmir Medical Chamber President Dr. Lütfi Çamlı ship dismantling creates “a major source of environmental pollution for Aliağa and İzmir, and poses a great threat to the health of the people living and working in the vicinity of these facilities.” See: Asbestli gemi direnişi [Asbestos ship resistance].
Furore Grows over Asbestos Import
May 13, 2021
CHP İzmir Deputy Kamil Okyay Sındır, from the Turkish opposition party, has been highly vocal about the toxic waste being dumped in his constituency. Sındır criticized plans to bring a former Brazilian warship to Aliağa for dismantling saying it will turn İzmir into a toxic waste center. In a recent speech, the Deputy said: “Our environment, our nature, and the future of the people of Izmir are being destroyed without care… Allowing the dismantling of this ship … [opens] the door to an ecological disaster. We will not let the ship Sao Paulo turn our Aliağa into the world’s garbage dump.” See: CHP'li Sındır: İzmir zehirleniyor ama iktidarın umurunda değil! [CHP Sındır: İzmir is poisoned, but the government does not care!]
Toxic Dust from Urban Development
May 10, 2021
Tests conducted in Istanbul by personnel from the Association of Asbestos Removal Specialists have revealed airborne asbestos fibers in the Gaziosmanpaşa, Esenyurt and Bakırköy areas. Asbestos expert Kenan Yıldı is calling on all the city’s districts to reveal findings from similar tests. Commenting on the findings Yıldı said: “Asbestos and harmful dusts are spread everywhere since adequate measures are not taken in urban transformation [developments]. It seems that these dusts are scattered throughout most of the city. The substances we detect can cause very serious breathing problems.” See: Uzmanlar isim isim saydı: İşte İstanbul'un zehir saçan ilçeleri [Naming and shaming: the poisoned districts of Istanbul].
Protect Yourself from Asbestos!
May 10, 2021
Considering the failures of local, regional and central governments in Turkey to protect citizens from asbestos exposures caused by urban renewal, building demolitions, earthquakes and toxic shipbreaking, civil society leaders are warning that people must protect themselves and their families from the deadly fibers. Commenting on the gravity of the situation Mehmet Ensari, of the Association of Asbestos Removal Specialists said: “Regretfully, the ministries and municipalities are watching you breathe asbestos, and despite all our calls for cooperation, we have not received a positive response except from Mersin/Yenişehir municipality…” See: Bakanlıklar ve belediyeler asbest solumanızı seyrediyor [“Ministries and municipalities watching you breathe asbestos”].
Saying No to the Sao Paulo!
May 4, 2021
Opposition continues to grow in Turkey over plans to dismantle a former Brazilian warship – believed to contain up to 900 tonnes of asbestos – at an Izmir shipbreaking facility. According to the İzmir Medical Chamber the scrapping of the vessel in Turkey would cause pollution both in the sea and on the land. Lütfü Çamlı, the head of the Chamber, warned that Turkey was on the verge of becoming the world’s “toxic waste dump” adding that: “The increasing ship dismantling traffic creates a major source of environmental pollution for Aliağa and İzmir and poses a great threat for people living around these facilities and workers.” See: Medical chamber expresses concern over aircraft carrier dismantling in İzmir.
Growing Anger over Toxic Import
Apr 27, 2021
Political opposition continues to build in Turkey, with the latest condemnation over plans to import a toxic Brazilian warship to Turkey for scrapping coming from Izmir Deputy Kani Beko who highlighted the presence of an estimated 600 tonnes of asbestos onboard the vessel. Beko claimed that dismantling the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier in Aliağa could harm workers and members of local communities as well as do irreparable damage to the environment. See: CHP'li Beko'dan asbestli gemi uyarısı: Sadece Aliağa'yı değil tüm ülkeyi kirletir! [Asbestos ship warning from Beko of CHP: It pollutes not only Aliaga, but the whole country!].
Saying No to Toxic Imports!
Apr 23, 2021
Public opposition continues to build in Turkey over plans to bring a toxic Brazilian aircraft carrier – believed to contain asbestos as well as heavy metals – to Izmir for scrapping. A statement by the Aliağa Environment Platform was categorical: “Tons of materials that will directly affect the sea, air and naturally human life will be dismantled at the shipbreaking shipyard in Aliağa. The meaning of this is clear: We will breathe the poison.” See: Aliağa Çevre Platformu: Bu kent, bu hayat bizim, zehir solumak istemiyoruz [Aliağa Environment Platform: This city, this life is ours, we don't want to breathe poison].
Opposition Grows over Toxic Ship
Apr 21, 2021
The Turkish environmental activist nicknamed “Don Quixote Osman” has condemned the import of the Brazilian aircraft carrier the São Paulo, calling the vessel a “floating coffin.” The campaigner said that grassroots anger is growing over the dumping of yet another toxic ship in Turkey and he is demanding that the ship be returned to France. which is where it was built, for dismantling. Having considered the human health and ecological consequences of the ship’s scrapping in Turkey, Osman pledged: “We will not take this ship into our territorial waters.” See: Don Kişot Osman'dan 'asbest' gemisi yorumu: Yüzen tabut [Don Quixote Osman's interpretation of ‘asbestos’ ship: floating coffin].
Say No to Toxic Ship!
Apr 20, 2021
İzmir Deputy and Environment Commission Member Murat Çepni issued a stinging denunciation of plans to allow a Brazilian Naval aircraft carrier to be dismantled in an Aliağa shipyard in Izmir. The contamination which would result from scrapping the ship would decimate the ecology and environment of Datça Kargı bay as well as expose workers and local people to carcinogenic substances. Çepni alleged that political and financial vested interests stood to gain from this catastrophic decision despite the obvious hazard posed to citizens and communities. See: Çepni: Zehir ve kanser saçacak olan gemi durdurulmalı! [Çepni: The ship that will spread poison and cancer must be stopped!].
Asbestos Failings Widespread in Istanbul
Apr 19, 2021
A new report published by technical experts in Turkey has revealed that only 7 out of 39 districts in Istanbul were enforcing asbestos inspection laws and guidelines prior to the commencement of redevelopment or demolition work. Scientific, geological and asbestos removal specialists warned that given the speed and ubiquity of urban renewal work in Turkey’s biggest city, the lack of asbestos audits and the failure to take preventive measures continue to release asbestos fibers into the air putting members of the public as well as workers at risk of toxic exposures. See: İstanbul'da asbest tehdidi: Sadece 7 ilçede sağlıklı denetim var [Asbestos threat in Istanbul: only 7 districts have healthy control].
Opposition Grows over Toxic Scrapping
Apr 19, 2021
An April 16, 2021 editorial by Uğur Dündar, one of the most famous news anchors in Turkey, has called on the Turkish Government to reject attempts to import an asbestos-contaminated warship from Brazil for scrapping at an Izmir recycling yard. Dündar, who warned that the ship was likely to contain “thousands of tons of jet fuel, diesel oil and petroleum hydrocarbons,” as well as asbestos, called on the Minister of Environment and Urbanization Murat Kurum to block the transit of the ship – which would “cause a major environmental disaster” – to Turkey. See: Zehir yüklü bu gemiyi Türkiye'ye sokmayın! [Do not bring poison ship to Turkey!].
Battle over Scrapping of the Sao Paulo
Apr 14, 2021
Public opposition is building over plans to dismantle a toxic Brazilian warship in a shipbreaking yard in Izmir. Environmentalists and scientists are speaking out about the hazard posed to workers and local people by plans to scrap the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier at the Aliaga yard. A petition has been submitted to the Aliaga Port Authority stating: “We do not want ships to enter our territorial waters to be recycled. Ship dismantling yards should be closed.” A new platform, bringing together groups opposed to the ship’s scrapping in Turkey, has announced it would start a legal battle to ban the vessel from entering the country. See: Bir zehir gemisi daha Türkiye yolunda [Turkey to accept another poison ship].
Alert: Asbestos Water Pipes
Apr 12, 2021
The danger posed by the delivery of water through asbestos-cement water pipes in Sakarya – a Turkish Province on the Black Sea coast – was highlighted last week by Sakarya politician Ecevit Keleş who stated that the problem, which was a serious issue affecting public health, needed to be addressed urgently. He called for a collaborative effort by every level of government, from Mayor Ekrem Yüce to President Erdogan and including municipal, provincial and national health and administrative authorities, to prioritize the replacement of the toxic pipes with safer alternatives. See: Keleş, Sakarya'da asbestli borularının olduğunu ifade etti! [Keles stated that they have asbestos pipes in Sakarya!].
Failure to Enforce Asbestos Regulations
Apr 8, 2021
Although asbestos use was banned in Turkey in 2010 given the widespread use of asbestos products before then, the speed of urban regeneration and the failure of municipalities to enforce regulations, toxic exposures to asbestos continue to occur on a routine basis during renovation and demolition work. The article cited below provides data highlighting the failure of Kartal Municipality to protect workers and local people from asbestos liberated by unsafe working practices; of the 567 buildings earmarked for development between 2018 and 2020, mandatory asbestos regulations were obeyed at only 73 sites. See: Kentsel dönüşümün yoğunca yaşandığı ülkemizde asbest sorunu büyüyor [Growing problem of asbestos in urban transformation in Turkey].
Asbestos Hazard in Shipbreaking Yard
Apr 6, 2021
Civil society campaigners in Turkey continue to raise the alarm over plans to scrap the redundant Brazilian aircraft carrier the São Paulo at the Aliağa shipbreaking yards in Izmir, Turkey. Spokesmen from the Asbestos Association Recycling Professionals and the Aegean Environment and Culture Platform (EGEÇEP) have made public statements about the threat to occupational and public health posed by the import of the asbestos-contaminated ship with EGEÇEP’s Eşsözcü Ali Osman Karababa pointing out that the right of citizens to live in a healthy environment is guaranteed by the country’s constitution. See: 600 ton asbest barındıran uçak gemisi Aliağa'da sökülecek [The aircraft carrier with 600 tons of asbestos will be dismantled in Aliağa].
Hazards for Shipbreaking Workers
Mar 31, 2021
President of Turkey’s Association of Asbestos Removal Professionals Mehmet Seyhmus Ansari publicized concerns over the occupational and public health fallout from the dismantling of an asbestos-contaminated Brazilian warship destined to be scrapped at the Aliaga shipyard. Questions asked included: will occupational health be protected under the Regulation on Health and Safety Measures in Working with Asbestos; how many ships with asbestos were dismantled in Aliaga over the last 5 years; how many tons of asbestos were disposed of? See: Brezilya'nın başından attığı asbestli savaş gemisi Türkiye'de sökülecek [Brazilian warship containing asbestos will be dismantled in Turkey].
Asbestos Fly-tipping in Anatolia
Dec 30, 2020
Asbestos-containing debris has been discovered in garbage dumped illegally in a forest area in the Gaziemir district of Izmir, a city on the west of the Turkish peninsula of Anatolia. Local people are incensed about the health hazard posed by the environmental contamination and have urged the local authorities to take action not only to remediate the area but also to prevent further dumping. See: Kaçak moloz dökülen ormanlık alanda 'asbest' tehlikesi [The danger of ‘asbestos’ in the forest area with illegal dumping of waste].
Cancer Causation and Asbestos
Dec 18, 2020
Research undertaken over the last five years by a team of scientists from Turkey, Japan and the US has established that people with the gene mutation named “BLM +/-” had a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. This discovery could, said the researchers, be fundamental in developing new protocols for early diagnoses and improved treatments for this pleural cancer. Individuals at high-risk of contracting the cancer once identified could be better protected and monitored. See: Asbest kaynaklı akciğer zarı kanserine neden olan gen bulundu [Gene that causes asbestos-induced lung cancer].
Jan 6, 2020
According to Turkey’s Chamber of Geological Engineers, exposure to asbestos poses a serious risk to public health despite the introduction of the 2010 asbestos ban. The hazard comes not only from asbestos products within the infrastructure but also from the new use of contaminated material in the construction, textile, aviation and automotive sectors. The uncontrolled demolition of asbestos-containing buildings has exacerbated the problem with one expert warning: “Many residential areas are built on asbestos soil, tens of thousands of people are still in contact with asbestos and we will see more cancer cases in years to come for as long as this continues.” See: Asbestos continues to threaten public health in Turkey.
Environmental Crimes in Turkey
Oct 14, 2019
A Turkish expose regarding environmental contamination in the town of Dilovasi in the Kocaeli region described the effects of living near or visiting an area dominated by a hill made up of industrial waste containing material discarded by a factory operated by the Turkish company Izocam Trade and Industry, Inc. According to the results of scientific tests, the waste included glass-type mineral wool and “significant amounts of three types of very dangerous asbestos…” An asbestos expert who visited the site expressed “pure shock” at the scale of the dump saying he had “never seen anything like this before.” Under Turkish regulations, the creation and existence of the dump could constitute an environmental crime. See: Asbestos Hill: a cover-up.
Sep 16, 2019
Although asbestos was banned in Turkey in 2010, the failure of local and regional authorities to deal effectively with asbestos in the built and natural environment meant that toxic exposures continued to pose a risk to human health according to Kenan Yildiz, a spokesperson for (Turkey’s) Asbestos and Hazardous Waste Association. In an online commentary, Yildiz also alleged that many provinces and district municipalities had failed to acknowledge the asbestos hazard and did not comply with official and mandatory asbestos guidelines. Illegal asbestos products can, he said, still be purchased in Turkey via the internet. See: “Takdir-i idari” bir risk: Asbest [An on-going hazard: Asbestos].
Turkey’s Asbestos Disaster
Jul 30, 2019
Plans announced by Gürkan Akgün, Head of the Department of Reconstruction and Urbanism in Istanbul, have been attacked by environmentalists on multiple grounds including the hazard posed by demolition of asbestos-containing buildings. According to researcher, Asli Odman urban transformation schemes which started in 2011 in Turkey spread asbestos throughout the country due to failures to remediate buildings prior to demolition or renovation. “Asbestos is the Chernobyl of the future,” she said. See: Gürkan Akgün: Taksim için yakın zamanda açıklama yapılacak [Gurkan Akgun: [plans for?] Taksim will be announced soon].
Asbestos Hazard: Urban Renewal
Jun 14, 2019
The failure to remove asbestos from buildings due to be demolished in Turkey is, unfortunately, a common problem. A recent report about the construction of the Pendik National Garden in Istanbul on a derelict 250+ acre industrial site provided a good example of warnings unheeded. On January 17, 2019, Cafer Fidan, President of the Association of Asbestos and Hazardous Wastes, reported that the factory had been demolished without an asbestos inventory having been compiled and without the asbestos being removed. As a result, asbestos fibers were dispersed throughout the area destined to be the national garden and will remain in the soil as well as the environment. See: İstanbul'daki millet bahçesinde kanser tehlikesi! [The danger of cancer in the garden of the nation in Istanbul!].
Toxic Talc in Turkey
Jan 21, 2019
Turkish specialists in asbestos analysis concerned about the possible contamination of talcum powder sold in their country in the aftermath of the Johnson & Johnson scandal over asbestos found in baby powder sold in the US have tested four brands of talcum powder and found that each one of them was contaminated with asbestos. The Istanbul association which undertook this research said this was a preliminary investigation and a comprehensive report will be produced following further testing. See: Türkiye’de 4 pudra markasından asbest çıktı! [Asbestos in 4 powder brands in Turkey!].
Asbestos and Urban Transformation
Jan 9, 2019
Asbestos liberated by demolition and remediation contractors engaged in Turkey’s urban transformation is continuing to endanger occupational and public health on a daily basis. Inspectors tasked with ensuring asbestos removal work is conducted according to health and safety protocols, reported multiple incidents of illegal dumping in forests and elsewhere of asbestos waste from demolition sites. Only 14 of Istanbul’s 39 districts require “asbestos free certificates” prior to the demolition of buildings;it is believed that two thirds of Istanbul’s old buildings contain asbestos. Prior to banning asbestos, 500,000 tonnes of asbestos were used in Turkey. See: Asbest hilesi [Asbestos fraud].
Occupational Asbestos Exposures in Turkey
Dec 3, 2018
A newly published paper explores the reasons why there have been no recognized mesothelioma compensation cases in Turkey, a country where it is the usual practice to explain asbestos-related diseases as having been caused by environmental exposures to asbestos. The researchers concluded that: “Low awareness of occupational asbestos exposure risk, especially among physicians, discourages seeking compensation for occupational exposure.” They recommended that surveillance and prevention programs be implemented to prevent hazardous occupational as well as environmental exposures. See: Asbestos-Related Diseases in Turkey: Not Only Caused by Naturally Occurring Fibers, but Also by Industrial Exposures.
Oct 22 2018
A paper by Turkish researchers investigated methods for differentiating malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) from lung cancer (LC) and non-malignant pleural effusion (NMPE) from pleural fluids. The technique – Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics – succeeded in differentiating MPM from LC with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity and from NMPE with 100% sensitivity and 88% specificity. The scientists concluded that: “This approach can provide a rapid and inexpensive methodology for the efficient differentiation of MPM from other pleural effusions.” See: Diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma from pleural fluid by Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics.
Asbestos Removal Training
Oct 16, 2018
Under a program to produce more asbestos removal operatives in Turkey, 474 successful trainees have received certification as specialists in this field of work. Upon completion of the latest course, organized by the General Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety of the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services, Dr. Orhan Koç – General Director of Occupational Health and Safety Operations – highlighted the need for the safe removal of asbestos before buildings are demolished. Asbestos removal training will continue in 2019. See: Asbest Söküm Uzmanlığı Eğitimi Yeni Mezunlarını Verdi [Asbestos Removal Expertise Training Provides New Graduates].
Urban Renewal and Asbestos
Sep 28, 2018
A 9-minute clip uploaded to YouTube highlights the environmental hazards posed by the widespread demolition in Turkey of asbestos-containing buildings where no work had been done to decontaminate properties prior to buildings being knocked down. For decades, asbestos was extensively used in Turkey and developers continue to ignore the hazards posed to workers and members of the public by the asbestos liberated during urban renewal projects which are ubiquitous in Turkey nowadays. See: Asbest: Yıkımla Saçılan Ölüm [Asbestos: Death from Demolition].
Progress: Asbestos Training
Jul 4, 2018
On June 25-29, 2018, the 15th program for asbestos removal specialists was run successfully, under the supervision of Mr. Furkan Yildiz, Assistant General Manager of Occupational Health and Safety, in compliance with legislation aimed to raise asbestos awareness amongst operatives working in the asbestos removal industry. To date, up to 40 training sessions have been run and 405 work safety experts have been awarded Asbestos Dismantling Specialist certificates. Last week’s course resulted in 24 candidates qualifying as Asbestos Removal Specialists. See: Asbest Söküm Uzmanlığı Eğitimleri Gerçekleştirilmiştir [Mandatory Asbestos Training Program].
In-place Asbestos Hazard
Mar 24, 2018
On March 23, 2018, Cevahir Efe Akçelik, environmental engineer and executive at the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects revealed that pre-demolition asbestos audits are mandatory in only seven Istanbul districts; data from checks undertaken in Beşiktaş, Şişli, Maltepe, Tuzla, Bağcılar, Kadıköy and Ataşehir found that 25% of the buildings to be demolished contained asbestos. Cafer Fidan, head of the Asbestos Removal Experts Association, urged property owners to act responsibly: “Since asbestos is seriously hazardous for human health, a relevant inventory report should be prepared before the demolition of any building, factory maintenance or home renovation.” See: Asbestos in Istanbul buildings puts lives at risk.
Failing Asbestos Protocols
Jan 9, 2018
The Turkish Chamber for Engineers and Architects released a report on asbestos yesterday (January 8, 2018), highlighting the toxic exposures caused by decades of irresponsible demolition and construction activity in the absence of legislation and government negligence. Despite a national asbestos ban, measures to deal with in-place asbestos and the removal and disposal of toxic products are lacking in most jurisdictions. See: Asbest Raporu yayınlandı: İstanbul kanser tehlikesi ile karşı karşıya, önlem alan yok [Asbestos Report published: Istanbul faces cancer risk, no preventive measures].
Mesothelioma Data from Turkey
Nov 24, 2017
A high national incidence of mesothelioma in Turkey has been confirmed by a new study reporting data collected by The Turkish Mesothelioma Working Group and the Turkish Public Health Institute for the Turkey National Mesothelioma Surveillance and Environmental Asbestos Exposure Control Program. Based on the statistics gathered, scientists predict that between 2013 and 2033 there could be 2,511 mesothelioma deaths in rural areas; ongoing asbestos exposure in 379 rural villages inhabited by 158,068 people in high-risk areas is a serious cause for concern. See: Turkey National Mesothelioma Surveillance and Environmental Asbestos Exposure Control Program.
Jun 1, 2017
According to a report from the Kadıköy Municipality, since asbestos regulations were introduced in 2016 to prevent the demolition of asbestos-containing buildings in the area – a densely populated district of Istanbul – 498.5 tons of asbestos waste collected from 1,517 building sites have been disposed of. Inspections at the 1,517 Kadıköy sites revealed that 446 (~30%) of them were contaminated with asbestos. Urban regeneration work by commercial firms outside of this one area are, as far as can be ascertained, carried out without public supervision or mandatory requirements regarding the asbestos hazard. See: Kadıköy'de ciddi tehlike: 498 buçuk ton asbest! [Serious danger in Kadıköy: 498 tons of asbestos!].
Environmental Asbestos Threat
Mar 2, 2017
A row has broken out between Ankara city officials and professional organizations over the health hazard of demolition work at a factory believed to contain 350 tonnes of asbestos. Air monitoring conducted close to the factory in the Maltepe neighborhood of Ankara by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects found dangerously high levels of amphibole asbestos. Calls have been made for schools in the area to be closed as a preventative action. Ankara’s Mayor alleges that safety measures were implemented during the dismantling work. See: Debate over asbestos diffusion heats up in Turkish capital Ankara.
Environmental Asbestos Hazard
May 12, 2016
The Environmental and Occupational Lung Diseases Working Group of the Turkish Thoracic Society has issued warnings about the fallout from the demolition of asbestos-containing buildings during the country’s urban transformation program. Although the use of asbestos is now banned, the presence of asbestos within the Turkish infrastructure continues to pose a hazard, especially to people in the shipbuilding or construction sectors such as refurbishment and demolition workers. Recommendations made include the need for asbestos audits prior to the commencement of building work or demolition. See: Yıkımlarda ortaya çıkan asbest kanser yapıyor> [Asbestos cancer hazard of uncontrolled demolition].
New Tools for Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Apr 17, 2016
A study of three Turkish cohorts assessed the efficacy of biomarkers in predicting the presence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). More than half of the 48 subjects in the asbestos-exposed group had pleural plaques; this group also had higher levels of the mesothelin antigen than the control group. The MPM group of 42 patients had “significantly higher mean EGFR, TRX, SMRP, and fibulin-3 levels... SMRP and TRX levels increased in a graded fashion among the control, asbestos exposure, and MPM groups, respectively.” See: Evaluation of New Biomarkers in the Prediction of Malignant Mesothelioma in Subjects with Environmental Asbestos Exposure.
Turkey’s Asbestos Cancer Epidemic
Oct 5, 2015
A poster presented at the 25th International Congress of the European Respiratory Society in Amsterdam last week entitled: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Current Status and Future Projections in Turkey, by Dr. Salih Emri at al, highlighted the epidemic of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma in several Turkish villages which is largely due to environmental exposures to tremolite asbestos and erionite. The authors expressed concern about a future wave of asbestos-related diseases caused by exposures at workplaces and in urban areas where redevelopment work is being carried out. See: Poster – Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Current Status and Future Projections in Turkey.
Removal of Asbestos Water Pipes
Mar 8, 2015
The authorities overseeing water delivery and sewage for a rural area in Turkey have announced a program to remove 250 kilometers of asbestos-containing pipes this year. In a Turkish language article, the General Manager of Water and Sewerage Administration for the Adana municipal region Rahmi Pekar confirmed that the work would be carried and that all the contaminated pipes were scheduled for replacement with safer alternatives. The EU banned asbestos in 2005 and Turkey followed suit in 2010. See: Asbest boru kalmayacak! [No More Asbestos Pipes!].
Environmental Contamination in Turkey
Jan 8 2015
The Health Ministry has announced that asbestos contamination is widespread in Turkey’s rural areas. Samples from 379 villages, some of which have populations of 150,000, showed high airborne levels of asbestos. The official response has been one of caution – evacuations are not required but measures should be implemented to minimize hazardous exposures to prevent thousands of future cancer cases. In Istanbul last month reports were circulating about the risk posed by unregulated demolition of asbestos-containing buildings See: Evacuation ruled out after asbestos alert.
Asbestos Scandal Unfolds
Dec 22, 2014
On December 21, an article in the liberal newspaper Taraf detailed the unregulated demolition of asbestos-containing buildings throughout Istanbul as part of a huge urban regeneration program. According to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, it was not possible to obtain information about the presence of asbestos from the relevant municipalities; in the absence of this knowledge, preventive actions could not be taken. Politician Haluk Eyidogan, representing the Turkish opposition, is confronting the government over this issue; he pointed out that there is no facility in Turkey for the safe disposal or storage of asbestos waste. See: Urban demolitions spread asbestos as precautions forsaken.
Urban Renewal: Asbestos Hazard
Apr 14, 2014
A serious public health hazard has been highlighted in an article published on April 12, 2014 which focused on the ramifications of the urban renewal project launched by the Turkish Government in 2013. Under this program, which aims to demolish more than 6 million properties by 2020, no consideration is being given to the risk to workers or members of the public of exposure to asbestos-containing building and insulation products contained within the structures earmarked for demolition. See: Kentsel dönüsümde asbestli malzeme alarmi çaliyor [The Hazard of Asbestos-containing Material during Urban Renewal].
Plan to Minimize Asbestos Exposure
Apr 22, 2013
A strategic plan launched by the National Public Health Institution of Turkey will be rolled out in 437 villages and 30 cities to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard and reduce human exposures. Official sources estimate that a million people in rural areas are exposed to asbestos. The "Asbestos Control Action Plan" will include research in rural towns and at polluted industrial sites; soil samples will be collected and measured to ascertain the levels of asbestos. As well as saving life and decontaminating the environment, the Government hopes to save $200m in healthcare costs for asbestos-injured patients. See: TSHK launches plan to prevent asbestos exposure.
New Scientist Asbestos Feature
Apr 16, 2013
Researchers investigating mesothelioma clusters in three remote rural villages in Cappadocia, Turkey found that mortality from this "rare cancer" accounted for up to 50% of all deaths. It has been postulated that exposure to erionite, a mineral which is found throughout this region, has caused the high incidence of asbestos cancer deaths. A gene called BAP1 is also being explored as a causal factor. As erionite is present in various geographical locations, work is ongoing to assess the level of risk to local people. Efforts are being made to relocate the at-risk populations in Turkey. See: Villages of the Damned.
Treatment of Mesothelioma in Turkey
Oct 7, 2011
The paper Clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes in 132 patients with malignant mesothelioma, was today published online in the official journal of the Indian Chest Society. Results reported by Turkish researchers showed that patients in the cohort had mean survival times of: 7.7 months for best supportive care, 10.4 months for chemotherapy and 12.6 months for multimodal treatment. The treatment response rate for patients receiving Cisplatin/Carboplatin and Gemcitabine was found to be 47.1%; for patients receiving Cisplatin/Carboplatin and Pemetrexed it was 50.0%.
World Congress Considers Asbestos
Sep 11, 2011
The XIX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work will provide the opportunity for asbestos issues to be considered at a designated seminar, during oral sessions and in posters, at the meeting being held in Istanbul on September 11-15, 2011. Unfortunately, it is likely that representatives of the asbestos industry will be present at this event en masse. At the last such meeting, which took place in Korea in 2008, industry bully boys attempted to intimidate ban asbestos campaigners, disrupted meetings and made baseless accusations against leading trade union and civil society campaigners. See: Defending the Indefensible.