The European Commission on Thursday sent a formal notice to Greece, warning authorities over pollution levels in Athens and saying that they need to take action “to ensure good air quality and safeguard public health.”
Greece, the Commission’s announcement said, is in violation of European legislation setting limit values for air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, and especially in Athens, where NO2 levels have been above the set limit since 2010.
“Greece has failed to ensure compliance with the annual limit value for NO2 in Athens for the period 2010-2014 and to establish an Air Quality Plan identifying the necessary measures that would keep the exceedance period as short as possible,” the Commission said.
It also warned of a failure to monitor pollution in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
Among other sources, nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants are produced by traffic, fossil fuels and wood smoke.
Smog levels in many Greek cities have risen in recent years as a result of an increased dependence on fireplaces and wood-burning stoves as a cheaper alternative for heating homes.