With the two devastating earthquakes that hit 11 provinces in Kahramanmaraş on February 6, efforts to heal the wounds continue. Experts are constantly warning about the teams responsible for the demolition of the buildings, which have been decided to demolish after the damage assessment studies in the earthquake zones. Experts point out that unless precautions are taken, serious public health problems will arise in the coming years, especially during the demolition works.
Dicle University Faculty of Medicine Breast Diseases Lecturer Prof. dr. Dr. Abdurrahman Şenyiğit stated that the use of asbestos was banned in many countries of the world after the 2000s. Şenyiğit, who stated that many buildings in Turkey were built with asbestos in previous years, said: “Asbestos is a mineral and has been used in more than 3,000 industrial areas in the world from the 1870s to the early 2000s. In other words, it is a type of soil that has been used on every field imaginable. It is also used in our region as a plaster and detergent, as a diaper, as a powder material and as an additive in molasses. In the 1970s it was banned as a precaution after the danger of asbestos was recognized. After 1995, its production and consumption was completely banned in Europe and many countries of the world in the 2000s. The use of asbestos is also prohibited in Turkey. However, we know very well that, despite its use being banned, it is used illegally in brake pads, gaskets and insulation materials. Likewise, we know that there are many areas associated with asbestos in old buildings. This could be marley, glass industry. It contains a lot of asbestos,” he says.
“There is great danger”
Şenyiğit stressed that if precautions are not taken in the rubble areas, various diseases, such as pleural cancer, can occur among citizens due to asbestos, saying, “After asbestos was banned in the years 1995-2000 and after it was moved to reinforced concrete houses, the danger from contact with asbestos from the environment gradually decreased. We don’t see pleural cancers that we saw very often in the past. But there is another great danger. Especially in old buildings there are still many products due to asbestos. Asbestos poses two hazards because of the destruction of these buildings. One of them, due to the absorption of asbestos that enters the environment during demolition, into the lungs of citizens, various diseases can occur, including pleural cancer. If we don’t take precautions in the buildings we demolish today, it could cause disease 30 years later.”
“A face mask must be worn during demolition”
Underlining the need to take precautions to prevent rainwater from mixing with drinking water at rubble dumping sites, Şenyiğit pointed out that serious public health problems can arise when asbestos is mixed in drinking water, saying:
“Similarly, after the buildings are demolished, the place where the excavation will be poured should be isolated and monitored accordingly. At the place where the rubble is dumped, rainwater must certainly not mix with the drinking water. There are some minerals, especially heavy metals, in this debris. If they get into drinking water, they can pose a serious threat. Therefore, during the demolition of buildings, necessary precautions should be taken and masks should be worn. Dust should be avoided where possible. Otherwise, after 30 years, a serious explosion may occur in asbestos-related diseases. Take action now.”