Athens air pollution found at 15 times above EU alert level

The concentration of air pollutants in Athens have reached as much as 15 times the level recommended by the European Union over the past two months due to the increased use of fireplaces and wood stoves, research by experts from several Greek universities has shown.

Researchers measured the levels of fine particulate air pollution (PM 2.5) in the capital’s ambient air between January 10 and February 10 and registered a high of 300 mg/m3. The target value recommended by the EU is 20 mg/m3. This directive is to pass into EU law in 2015.

Experts found that roughly 80 percent of the pollution was being caused by wood fires and pointed to the fact that only a relatively mild winter, with temperatures being on average 3.5 Celsius higher than last year, prevented worse pollution.

Many Greeks turned to fireplaces for warmth this winter after heating oil costs shot up due to a steep rise in consumption tax.

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