Increases in the proportion of airborne pollution particles, provoked by traffic congestion and the burning of low-grade fuels, are responsible for thousands of deaths in Athens, experts told a conference yesterday. Every increase of 10 milligrams per cubic meter in the concentration of these particles provokes around 5,000 deaths in Athens, according to Professor Klea Katsouyianni of Athens University’s Medical School. «Athenians are affected most, as the presence of these microparticles increases significantly in cities with high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and high temperatures,» she said. The increase in road traffic in the capital, with an estimated 8 million road journeys conducted per day, boosts emissions of these particles, according to transport expert Panos Papadakos. And the illegal trade in diesel fuels – where tax-free heating oil is being sold as automotive fuel – is also contributing to pollution, as heating oil pollutes more than automotive fuel, according to Professor Costas Fytianos of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University.