Air pollution a risk in Piraeus

Atmospheric pollution in Piraeus is posing a health risk to local residents, according to a recent study which shows the average level of airborne pollution particles at the port to be twice the European Union average. According to the study, carried out by chemical engineers from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) on behalf of Piraeus prefectural authorities, the level of these tiny pollution particles – known as PM 10 and PM 2.5 – exceeded the European maximum safe level of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (mg/m3) up to 10 times last year. The average level of air pollution in Piraeus in the winter of 2009 was 81.3 mg/m3 and 89.9 mg/m3 in the summer. The EU average is 40 mg/m3. Experts blamed toxic emissions from ships and cars in the busy port for the high levels of pollution in Piraeus though the situation at the country’s main port is still significantly better than that in Athens and Thessaloniki. Yesterday the average level of air pollution particles reached 98 mg/m3 at a monitoring station in Thrakomakedones, north of Athens. On Tuesday, the pollution count at different spots in the capital ranged between 183 mg/m3 and 208 mg/m3 – several times above the EU average. The NTUA team also conducted pollution counts inside the city of Piraeus, concluding that the level of air pollution there is verging on the maximum safe level and could surpass this if action is not taken to curb emissions. Piraeus Prefect Yiannis Michas expressed concern at the findings. «Visitors, citizens and workers in Piraeus are being besieged by dangerous toxins. Emissions from ships and cars have created a poisonous cocktail of atmospheric pollution.»