Technology to help air quality

Growing air pollution in Athens costs about 211 million euros per year but pollution levels can be significantly reduced for about a quarter of that cost by modernizing industrial plants, scientists say. A study prepared by the Athens Observatory shows air quality would greatly improve if 800 of the capital’s largest industrial plants used more modern technology in their operations. These updated methods include adopting natural gas as an energy source, using less water and improving waste management. «The 211-million-euro amount we arrived at is conservative. There is also the question of whether you can financially quantify the cost on human life and the environment,» said Sevastianos Mirasgentis, a researcher at the Athens Observatory. Two-thirds of the cost relates to public health while the remainder comes from expenses incurred in farming, the environment and the ecosystem. Reducing pollution levels would require an investment of somewhere between 56-58 million euros, with the government pitching in about 12 to 18 million euros, the study said. Politicians must also show serious willpower to carry through the plan, it added. Updating technology at plants would also reduce damaging particle emissions such as PM10 and SO2 by up to 29 percent. The study, which took over two years to prepare, also examines the idea of imposing taxes on companies based on particle emissions and partly financing programs which make use of environmentally-friendly technologies. Attica is home to some 9,000 industrial units which pollute the environment. Of them, 800 are believed to produce about half of the pollution examined by the study. The study’s findings are also considered to be relevant for other cities in Greece. Experts said the existence of many laws on the issue makes implementation difficult and that the same rules should not be applied to all industrial businesses, regardless of size.