Cleaner air could save thousands of lives

People in Athens and Thessaloniki would live a year longer and there would be some 5,000 fewer deaths annually if air pollution levels in those cities were lower, according to a study made public yesterday. Researchers from the Medical School of Athens University said that a reduction in the number of lung-ravaging PM10 and PM2.5 air pollution particles would have a discernible impact on the health of the cities’ population. The research team found that if the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 particles in the atmosphere were below 20 micrograms per cubic meter in either city, some 5,066 fewer people would die from heart disease, lung cancer and other diseases. The Municipality of Thessaloniki said this week that the number of airborne particles averaged 67.6 micrograms per cubic meter between 2000 and 2004.