In addition to new earthquakes, experts see the health of residents and rescue workers in Turkey at risk from the high mountains of rubble. The local Chamber of Architects assumes at least 100 million tons. It contains asbestos and lead.
A month after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and northern Syria, experts are warning of hazardous substances in the mountains of rubble. "Construction waste contains potentially hazardous materials that can harm nature and human health. One of them is asbestos," said a Greenpeace spokeswoman in Turkey. Asbestos has been proven to be carcinogenic and was also used in Turkey, for example for insulating buildings, until it was banned.
According to government figures, at least 200,000 buildings have been destroyed or will have to be demolished. The Turkish Chamber of Architects stated that at least 100 million tons and 250 million cubic meters of debris were created in the earthquake area. It contained asbestos, lead and similar dangerous substances - in what quantity is still unknown.
"Preventing the spread of asbestos fibers is critical to safety," Greenpeace said. "Uncontrolled exposure increases the risk of cancer for local residents, search and rescue workers and other workers on site." Dust pollution is also an additional risk, especially for vulnerable people with health problems such as lung cancer, asthma or bronchitis. In addition, all kinds of materials would be burned in the region as a heat source. "This also entails additional pollution of the ambient air quality. The state must ensure that the heating requirement is covered by electrical devices."
Greenpeace called for the contaminated materials in the rubble to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner "to prevent further disasters". Any contamination from the debris fields would pose a risk to public health, agriculture and underground water resources.