Air Pollution Measurements Show Greeks Are Staying Home

While researchers warn that it is too soon to draw safe conclusions, closures and social distancing appear to have had a major impact on air pollution.

Atmospheric pollution in Greece has dropped significantly over the past week, according to the Environment Ministry’s pollution measurement network, with officials attributing the drop to the reduction of traffic on the roads amid the government’s “Menoume Spiti” (We Stay at Home) campaign to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Data gathered by the Environment Ministry’s national network for monitoring air pollution between March 11, when Greek schools closed, and March 18, when many shops closed, has pointed to a smaller concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and atmospheric pollution particles (PM10) linked to car emissions, industry and other sources.

The pollution recorded during that period at two air quality monitoring stations – both in central Athens – showed a drop of 11.2 percent in NO2 pollution while PM10 fell by 6.1 percent.

The drop in the last few days of the test period – from March 16 to 18 – was even greater, with NO2 down by 48.5 percent and PM10 by 48.8 percent.

“As the data show, the concentration of the pollution particles was significantly influenced in those last three days, when measures were intensified,” the ministry’s General Secretary Konstantinos Aravosis said.

“In any case, the test period is too small to draw any safe conclusions about the extent of the impact of restrictive measures on atmospheric pollution,” he added. 

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