Athens on alert for rising pollution

While the debate rages on whether diesel-powered cars can help Athens with its environmental problems, the Health and Environment ministries yesterday instructed the elderly and children to stay indoors as air pollution levels climbed toward dangerous highs. Rising temperatures in combination with windless conditions resulted in ozone levels in Thracomacedones, in the city’s north, reaching 214 mg/m3, well above 180mg/m3 which places authorities on alert. «People with breathing and cardiovascular problems and generally those who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid moving around outdoors and engaging in strenuous physical activity,» the ministries said. The number of air pollution warnings issued by the Environment Ministry had dropped in recent years, partly because of improvements to public transportation. However, the warnings are now becoming more frequent. Meanwhile, the Technical Chamber of Commerce (TEE) weighed in on calls for a ban on diesel-fueled cars in Athens and Thessaloniki to stay in place. TEE said the large amount of adulterated fuel being sold on the market as well as the lack of technology to block harmful particles from diesel fuel will worsen pollution in the country’s two largest cities. Supporters of diesel-powered cars say most car manufacturers equip vehicles with the required particle filters to protect the environment.