Pollution alarm as Greeks switch to firewood for heat

Dec 23, 2013
A man chops wood to make a fire in the mountains of the eastern Turkish city of Tunceli, on January 30, 2010

Greek authorities on Monday offered free electricity to low-income families on certain days, after smog rose sharply as hard-hit residents increasingly shun fuel for cheaper firewood to heat their homes.

The health ministry said it had finalised a plan originally announced in November that offers free power to poorer households when exceeds safety levels.

The move came after another weekend of extensive wood-burning that choked skies in Athens and other main cities.

In the capital's northern suburbs, particulate matter was double the normal level for the area and approached what authorities have set as the "alarm" threshold of 150 milligrammes per cubic metre.

Authorities said a pollution warning issued when cold temperatures were forecast for this past weekend seemed to have helped control the pollution.

Greeks have turned to burning wood as energy prices have soared over the last two years thanks to tax hikes required by Greece's EU-IMF loan bailout.

A new property tax was added to in 2011 and the price of heating fuel also increased in 2012.

Under the new plan, customers who have registered with the state power company's low-income rates are entitled to two days of free for every day that smog hits the "alarm" level.

The smog contains sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other carcinogens, all judged dangerous for public health.

The economic crisis stalking Greece since 2010 initially caused pollution to dip because of a drop in automobile traffic.

Explore further: Greek economic crisis leads to air pollution crisis

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wood-burning sets off pollution alarm bells in Athens

Dec 28, 2012

Air pollution in Athens has surged in recent days because of people choosing wood over more expensive fuels to heat their homes in the grips of a continuing economic crisis, the environment ministry said ...

Greek economic crisis leads to air pollution crisis

Dec 19, 2013

In the midst of a winter cold snap, a study from researchers in the United States and Greece reveals an overlooked side effect of economic crisis – dangerous air quality caused by burning cheaper fuel for ...

Hospital in southwest China opens smog clinic

Dec 18, 2013

A hospital in southwest China has opened a clinic for patients who are suffering symptoms related to smog, a doctor said Wednesday, highlighting how big a concern pollution has become for Chinese.

'Apocalyptic' smog eases in Chinese city

Oct 23, 2013

A bout of choking smog that brought life to a standstill in a far northeast Chinese city for three days has dissipated, with flights resuming and students returning to school Wednesday.

China considers BBQ ban to combat smog

Feb 20, 2013

China is considering a ban on barbecues to help reduce air pollution in built-up areas after heavy smog recently choked large swathes of the country, state media reported Wednesday.

Recommended for you

UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn

8 hours ago

Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact.

Study shows no lead pollution in oilsands region

Oct 24, 2014

New research from a world-renowned soil and water expert at the University of Alberta reveals that there's no atmospheric lead pollution in Alberta's oilsands region—a finding that contradicts current scientific ...

User comments : 0