NEWS

Smog follows urban sprawl

The suburbs of Athens have been spreading further out in the last few years as residents seek quieter and cleaner areas to live. However, the city’s untamable cloud of pollution has caught up with them in a development that is threatening local property prices, according to recent data. Housing development has been growing strongly on Athens’s outskirts, particularly in the city’s north, with strong demand in areas such as Maroussi and Thracomakedones pushing up real estate valuations. The rising trend, however, could be stalled as the relatively new areas often feature among the suburbs with the worst air pollution levels. On Thursday, the Environment Ministry issued a warning to the elderly and children, asking them to remain indoors after ozone levels in Thracomakedones reached 214mg/m3, well above the 180mg/3 that places authorities on alert. Experts estimate that property values are closely linked to air and noise pollution levels and the availability of parking space. «The pollution of the environment negatively affects property prices and this will occur even more in the future if there are no measures taken,» chemical engineer and environmentalist Costas Nicolaou told Kathimerini. «It is necessary for there to be a push toward the use of public transport and to turn whatever vacant areas exist, such as army camps and vacant lots, into green areas,» he added. Nicoloau, along with peer Niki Lemonis, determined in a study completed by the Open University that objective values, estimates used by the government to tax property owners, are closely linked to air pollution levels.