This new study was published today. It shows the effects of wood heaters on people’s mortality in Armidale, an Australian city of 25.000 people in New South Whales.
The study’s result is that every year 14 people die in Armidale because of the polluted air they must breathe because of wood heaters.
Now, Armidale is a small city with a yearly Air Pollution average of Particulate Matter PM2,5 = 10 μg/m3, which is exactly the limit set by the WHO for Air Pollution. Ideally we should all breathe air cleaner than 10 μg/m3 to consider ourselves safe.
I calculated the average of 10 μg/m3 from the Purple Air Map.
So let’s now translate those numbers to our situation in Athens, considering that both cities burn wood in winter for about 5 months and that both cities produce the same wood smoke air pollution per inhabitant.
Athens has around 5 million people. So we must multiply 14 deaths/year by 200 (25.000 x 200 = 5 millions) and we would have 2800 deaths due to wood heaters in Athens.
But then we must consider another factor: the mean yearly Air Pollution of Particulate Matter PM2,5 in Athens is not 10 μg/m3, but 18 μg/m3 (taken from 11 Purple Air monitors, with the lowest pollution of 12 μg/m3 in Vouliagmeni and the highest of 32 μg/m3 in Nea Irakleio – see my older post here). So 2800 must be multiplied by 1.8, which gives a round estimate of 5040 deaths/year due to the air pollution coming ONLY from the thousands of wood heaters spread allover the city.
IT IS VERY LIKELY THAT EVERY YEAR AROUND 5040 PEOPLE DIE IN ATHENS DUE TO WOOD HEATERS.
So it is not only the smoke from wildifires that harms our health. We are under constant threat from the smoke of wood burnt in our fireplaces and wood heaters during all winter, but no one tells us. No warnings are issued in the winter nights when air pollution raises to very dangerous levels, close to those we have seen in the past week in Athens due to the wildfires.
When will we become aware of this huge health threat and will do something to stop the unnecessary deaths of more than 5000 people in Athens only?