All About the Breathing

When I lived in Ankara in the late ’80s, the homes was heated by coal.  The air quality was so bad that military members with any respiratory illness documented in their medical records were not allowed to be assigned to any installation in this city; neither could family members with similar illnesses.  My memories of the one winter I spent here do not include dazzling, bright snow but instead, gray mush tinted with coal dust.  Some buildings are now heated with natural gas so the pollution is not too bad but according to the following link, recently sent to all staff members, we should be concerned.  Ankara Air Report  Fortunately, the school sits above the city so while on campus, we are breathing a little easier than folks living and working in the city.

The chart provides interesting data.  Hover anywhere over the chart and you’ll see to the right the average number of days per year that fall in each of the five categories of air quality.  The majority of Ankara’s days fall in the “high pollution” category–217 days.  I wonder which months include those eleven days that are considered “fresh air”–guess I better be in town those days.  Last Saturday and Sunday had the best air quality all week.  Is that just a weekend thing?  I haven’t checked details of past weeks but the decrease this particular weekend was probably due to the fact that all public schools and some private ones (mine included) were not in session from last Wednesday at 1pm until Tuesday morning.  Sorry, my educator friends in the States and other locales, we got the time off and we don’t have to make it up.  That’s another story, though.  Many expats took the opportunity to travel out of country.  Sunday was an election day so perhaps many city dwellers traveled to their home towns to vote.  You can check the air report of some cities worldwide from the Air Report link near the top right and either clicking on a colored dot on the map or scrolling a bit to an alphabetical list.  For my Seattle followers, I’ve done the work for you:  Seattle Air Report.  You’re welcome.

I definitely took clean air for granted, particularly when I lived in the Pacific Northwest.  No more.  Breathe deeply, my friends, and enjoy your healthy surroundings. Be happy that you are not living in one of the metropolitan areas annotated by the black circles.  Harbin, China has the worst overall pollution but the graph for New Delhi is more dramatic–“extreme pollution” every day for the last week.  New Delhi Air Report

Note:  just checked the Ankara link.  When I started this post, the information was from 3pm local time although it was then 7pm (remember we are ten hours ahead of the U.S. West Coast).  Ankara’s reading was 75, in the “high pollution” category.  The site has now been updated to include the reading from 5pm–it is 119 so “very high pollution.”  VERY thankful to be up on our hill.


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