Cancer Society warns of risks of lighting fires


As an increasing number of city dwellers use their fireplaces to keep warm amid dropping temperatures, the Hellenic Cancer Society has warned of the health risks of burning wood in urban settings and has called on the government to ban the practice and introduce inspections and fines for offenders. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the society warned that the burning of wood releases large quantities of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of chemicals emitted when coal, oil or wood are burned, as well as tiny airborne pollution particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM 2.5) which penetrate deep into the lungs. 

The air pollution caused by burning wood affects the atmosphere inside the residence but also adjacent homes and the city’s atmosphere overall, the society said. 

According to the World Health Organization, increased concentrations of airborne pollution particles lead to a higher incidence of cancer as well as respiratory and heart problems. 

Studies have shown that burning wood or pellets releases a greater concentration of PM 2.5 particles than other fuels such as natural gas and oil. 

The society called on city dwellers to stop lighting their fireplaces to protect their own health and that of their fellow citizens and urged the authorities to introduce penalties for those who insist on doing so.