|1||Kozani, West Macedonia|
|2||Kardia, Central Macedonia|
|4||Plagiari, Central Macedonia|
|5||Sapes, East Macedonia and Thrace|
|6||Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia|
|7||Thermi, Central Macedonia|
|9||Ptolemaida, West Macedonia|
|10||Peraia, Central Macedonia|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
|5||National Observatory of Athens|
|6||PANACEA - National Observatory of Athens|
|7||CleanAir in Greece - Thiseio|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Moderate|| 57 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Athens is currently 3 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Close your windows to avoid dirty outdoor air|
|Sensitive groups should reduce outdoor exercise|
|Wednesday, Jun 22|
Moderate 79 US AQI
|Thursday, Jun 23|
Moderate 73 US AQI
|Friday, Jun 24|
Moderate 62 US AQI
Moderate 57 US AQI
|Sunday, Jun 26|
Moderate 61 US AQI
|Monday, Jun 27|
Moderate 69 US AQI
|Tuesday, Jun 28|
Moderate 65 US AQI
|Wednesday, Jun 29|
Moderate 54 US AQI
|Thursday, Jun 30|
Moderate 54 US AQI
|Friday, Jul 1|
Good 40 US AQI
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Athens is an ancient city located in Greece, with one of the worlds oldest recorded histories available, going back some 3,400 years. It is now the capital of Greece, as well as the most populous city in the country. It is renowned as the cradle of western civilization, as well as being a prominent past hub for the arts, philosophy and democratic thought. Nowadays, it still remains as a prominent figure amongst the European nations, with a large amount of industries centered around chemical and petroleum production, cement and building materials, as well as being home to multinational companies such as Sony, Samsung and Microsoft, with these and many more having developmental headquarters located there.
In regards to its recent air quality, Athens was recorded as having a PM2.5 reading of 22.3 μg/m³ over the course of 2019, a reading that placed it into the ‘moderately’ polluted bracket. To be classed as this, there needs to be a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to achieve this moderate rating. This is indicative that whilst Athens is not subject to catastrophic levels of pollution, it still could go a long way to improve its air quality, with every month out of its year staying within this moderate bracket, with some months rising higher than its yearly average and coming closer to the upper echelons of the moderate bracket. This reading of 22.3 μg/m³ put it in 765th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 5th place out of all cities ranked in Greece.
There are many causes of pollution afflicting Athens and other cities in Greece. The economic crisis that hit the country in the late 2000’s has added to this, affecting anthropogenic activity in such a way as to cause more pollution. On top of this, a ban on diesel fuels implemented around 1996 was lifted in 2012, and as such the amount of vehicle related pollutants climbed up significantly. This leads onto one of the main causes of year round ambient pollution, that of vehicular emissions, with the fumes and exhaust being a constant disturbance to the air quality readings, as well as causing heightened risks of health effects for those that live near to traffic dense areas or have to take daily commutes through some of the busier roads.
Other sources of pollution include ones such as the burning of wood for heating during the winter, with overly inflated costs for electricity causing many households, particularly in lower income districts (as well as more rural areas and outside of the city, which can cause smoke clouds to blow over Athens itself and get stuck within the urban topography) to resort to using more traditional methods of heating.
The mass burning of wood creates vast plumes of smoke and other chemical pollutants that can have a significant effect on the PM2.5 and PM10 readings. Other contributing sources would include ones such as construction sites, road repairs and any other activity that generates the release of fine particulate matter or dust into the air.
Observing the data taken over the course of 2019, there are certain months that come in with higher readings of PM2.5 as opposed to other portions of the year. Whilst it is not as clear cut as other cities around the world, due to the entire year falling into the moderate bracket (whilst other cities fluctuate into other group ratings depending on the season and other factors), there appears to be a decline in air quality level as the colder months start to take hold.
September through to October saw a significant decline in its air quality, with September coming in at 18.9 μg/m³ and October coming in at a much higher 27.1 μg/m³. This continued on into November and December, with readings of 22.3 μg/m³ and 26.4 μg/m³ respectively, and then furthermore into the early months of the following year. January through to April also had less than appreciable readings, with PM2.5 numbers of 24 μg/m³, 24.6 μg/m³, 25.1 μg/m³ and 24.9 μg/m³ all recorded between January to April, before abating somewhat down to more reasonable numbers (although of note is that any reading over the World Health Organizations target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less has the ability to cause harm to those who breathe such air). This shows that in 2019, the most polluted month was October with a PM2.5 reading of 27.1 μg/m³, followed closely by December at 26.4 μg/m³.
Moving on from the previous question, as touched on briefly, the air quality started to show signs of improvement after April. To reiterate, April’s reading came in at 24.9 μg/m³, and was followed by a fairly significant drop down to 16.7 μg/m³ in May. It was from here until September that the air quality was at its best in Athens, although it can be said that there is much more room for improvement, with pollution levels recorded that are considerably higher than many major cities across Europe.
Despite a sudden rise of PM2.5 coming back in June at 21.9 μg/m³, July through to September all came in with readings of 18.3 μg/m³, 17.3 μg/m³ and 18.9 μg/m³ respectively. These numbers all show that May was the cleanest month of the entire year during 2019, with its reading of 16.7 μg/m³ placing it in this spot.
With much of its pollution arising from sources such as vehicular exhaust, as well as wood burning and even industrial and factory based emissions, many of the pollutants found in the air would match accordingly. Cars (alongside other vehicles such as motorbikes, trucks, lorries and buses) give off considerable amounts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), with nitrogen dioxide being the most prominent in its release from vehicles, often found in large quantities over areas that see a high volume of traffic.
The burning of wood can release materials such as black carbon, the main component in soot and also a dangerous fine particulate matter that has carcinogenic properties when inhaled. Alongside black carbon, volatile organic compounds (VOC's) can be formed, some of which include chemicals such as toluene, xylene, tetrachloroethylene and ethylene glycol. All of these are hazardous to human health, and easy to respire due to them remaining in a gaseous state at lower temperatures. These are a few of the pollutants found in the air in Athens, with others such as finely ground silica dust, lead and mercury as well as microplastics being present, often prominent in construction zones or industrial areas.