ATHENS – Despite a mild winter that has reduced the need to use fireplaces – instead of heavily-taxed oil – to heat homes, a study has found that using them creates dangerous pollution inside.
With the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA reneging on promises to provide more heating oil subsidies to the poor and pumping up the tax on heating oil at the same time, health officials were anxious that Greeks, as in recent past years, would instead use their fireplaces and wood, construction materials, old furniture and anything else that would burn.
For many of the past eight winters, the length of the country’s ongoing economic crisis, that led to the night air being filled with the heavy smell of smoke and soot and with clothes left out showing the evidence in the morning.
In their warning, researchers at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University said that microparticles in closed spaces can exceed maximum safety levels set by European authorities within just two or three hours of lighting a fire, Kathimerini said in a report.
The university’s Chemical Engineering Department has been conducting extensive research into the effects of burning wood in a variety of different fireplaces and stoves on the air inside 40 homes in the northern port city.
The results showed that moderate use of a wood-burning device leads to a concentration of particulates in the air which is more than three times advisable levels, posing a risk to health.
“Even more worrying is the rise in the number of smaller particles,” Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Aristotle University told the paper.
“In a home with a fireplace, particulates with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 1 micrometer (PM1) reach 25,000 per cubic meter, against around 10,000 in a home without a fireplace.
“These levels are not restricted to a few meters around the fireplace. They are all over the room and spread out to the entire house,” he warned.