The number of early deaths caused by air pollution in Greece is nearly double the European Union average, according to research.
Data from the European Environment Agency show that there were 16,440 early deaths in Greece in 2016 due to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3).
PM2.5 emissions were responsible for an estimated 12,500 premature deaths, or 1.196 deaths per 1,000 people against an EU average of 0.73. NO2 concentrations caused an estimated 2,900 deaths, or 0.26 per 1,000 compared to an EU average of 0.13.
Finally, data showed 640 O3-related deaths, or 0.006 per 1,000 when the EU average was 0.027.
Meanwhile, EEA data from 2019 showed that 5.4 percent of the Greek population lived in areas where exposure to pollutants exceeded recommended limits.
Pollution levels increased in Greece after 2012 as cash-strapped households turned to firewood for heat as energy prices soared due to hikes.