destroyed residential building in ukraine
Photo by Yevhen Sukhenko on

Post-earthquake threat: Debris!


Apart from the heavy losses and damages caused by the earthquake disaster, it also has a long-term environmental impact that can directly affect human health. It stems from the debris left behind.

The debris from recent earthquakes in Turkey is thought to be between 70 and 85 million cubic meters. This means approximately 150 million tons of waste. It’s a huge size. Moreover, this is a huge waste rich in toxic and harmful materials: asbestos, lead, food, batteries, plastics, electronic devices, fluorescent, mercury…

I think the most well-known of these harmful substances is asbestos. Asbestos is not actually a chemical, but a common name for a group of minerals. As a ‘magic’ mineral, asbestos has been widely used for many years due to its insulating properties. In plaster and whitewash, on walls, in exterior flooring materials, in pottery and even in children’s powder…

This ‘magic’ mineral is actually extremely harmful. Asbestos fibers are dangerous and deadly when inhaled in the air. Inhaled fibers begin to accumulate in the lungs and cause cancer. That’s why asbestos is banned all over the world.

After the 2010s, the production, use and sale of asbestos was banned in our country. However, asbestos was used for many years as an insulating material in tiles, floor coverings, water tanks, roof coverings, plasters, electrical cables and panels in boiler rooms in buildings built before that. For this reason, it is possible that asbestos materials were used in most of the buildings destroyed in the earthquake zone.

The critical issue is where and how this poison-filled rubble will be dumped. Experts underline that the debris that will be piled up to form hills may appear as a mass public health problem with the respiratory tract for many years due to the effect of winds.

On the other hand, there is a risk of mixing these harmful wastes into groundwater.

Therefore, it seems critical again and again that this unsavory issue, whose effect will last for many years and may open the door to other disasters, should be resolved with the supervision and guidance of experts, and that it should not be avoided by making nonsense with fast fait accomplish that we are accustomed to.

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