Thessaloniki is gasping for air

Thessaloniki continues to be one of Europe’s most polluted cities despite a drop, recorded over the past four years, in the concentration of air pollution particles in the city’s atmosphere, experts said yesterday. The atmosphere in Thessaloniki contains on average 67.6 micrograms of air pollution particles (known as PM10 and PM2.5) per cubic meter, according to figures for the period between 2000 and 2004 made public yesterday by the environmental department of Thessaloniki Municipality. This is significantly more than the 50-microgram European Union limit. However, the situation has improved since 1999, when the concentration of airborne particles had reached 89.2 micrograms per cubic meter. Experts attributed the reduced presence of such particles – produced by fuel-powered vehicles and factories – to the circulation of more environmentally friendly vehicles, the shift of traffic from central roads to Thessaloniki’s ring road and a fall in industrial production.