ATHENS – Unable to afford heating oil because of high fuel taxes, Greeks using their fireplaces have been told to find some other way to stay warm because of the smog they’re creating.
The Environment Ministry has called on Athenians to avoid burning wood and other organic materials in fireplaces and boilers as air pollution in the city has reached dangerous levels, as it has for the past few years since the government hiked the fuel taxes to satisfy the demands of international lenders.
The ministry said that weather conditions are conducive to the buildup of smog over the city although the winter has been relatively warm so far.
In the past few years many Greeks have been using wood, plastic, construction debris, broken furniture and whatever they could to stay warm because they couldn’t afford heating oil, nor could some schools where students went cold or stayed home.
Last year, the smog got so bad it created a health hazard in a number of cities. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras promised to lower the fuel oil tax but backed off under pressure from the country’s creditors.