(Athens, Greece) – According to the Greek Health Ministry, ozone levels in areas of Athens are too high and exceed levels that are considered safe. High ground-level ozone levels have been recorded in an an area that is primarily north of the capital city’s center. This includes suburbs of Athens such as Thrakomakedones, Liosia, Maroussi, Arghia, and Paraskevi.
People with respiratory problems, such as asthma or other conditions, are advised to stay indoors. Individuals with heart problems, as well as those who experience a general sensitivity to pollution, are also advised to stay inside and completely avoid being exposed to the ozone. If sensitive individuals do need to go outside for any reason, it is also advised to wear special masks that destroy the ozone so that it doesn’t enter the body. Health authorities warn that ozone is a gas that could lead to breathing problems, which will worsen a preexisting condition.
Athens, as well as other areas of Greece, are all in the middle of a heatwave with temperatures in parts of Greece exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, which is around 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat wave, paired with the absence of wind, have caused pollution levels to skyrocket. The heatwave is expected to be in place for most of the week. Temperatures should drop slightly on Sunday, and there is even some rain the the forecast over the weekend. This reprieve from the hot weather is expected to alleviate some of the pollution levels.
The capital city has a history of pollution due to the often hot weather, the fact that the city is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and the high population numbers. Ozone is part of a type of pollution called “phytochemical smog” and is the result of chemical reactions between gasses in the air and sunlight. There are currently a few measures in place designed to combat this pollution, including requiring vehicles to have catalylic converters.