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Atmospheric Pollution in Thessaloniki: The Impact of Uncontrolled Burning of Biomass and Wood, Workshop Conclusions 16/12/2013

The particularly high prices of both heating oil (due to the increase in the Special Consumption Tax) and other conventional fuels, together with the current economic conditions, have led to a significant deterioration in the air quality in major urban centres around the country, due to the increased use of fireplaces and stoves for home heating. The above mentioned trend combined with the burning of cheap combustible materials - of dubious quality - during the winter has unquestionably lowered the quality of life in cities.

In this context and recognizing the complexity and magnitude of the problem, the International Hellenic University organized a workshop on 16 December 2013 with a view to assessing the environmental impact and hence that on human health of the unlimited burning of biomass and wood as a domestic heating fuel.

The contribution of the Deputy Mayor for Quality of Life and Public Space, Mr Konstantinos Zervas, was particularly positive. After praising the International Hellenic University’s initiative in highlighting such a topical subject in his welcoming remarks, the Deputy Mayor briefly presented some relevant statistics for the Municipality of Thessaloniki.

The event attracted members of both the academic community and the business world. Among others, the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Professor V Tarlatzis, was present as well as Mr Christos Vlachokostas, the Chairman of the Delegation of the Technical Chamber of Greece/Central Macedonia Section.

In the main part of the event, the Vice President of the International Hellenic University, Professor N. Moussiopoulos, in his capacity as Director of the Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, presented the results of measurements carried out in collaboration with the International Hellenic University at selected points in the wider metropolitan area of Thessaloniki. These results show that the uncontrolled burning of biomass and wood leads to a rapid increase in concentrations of atmospheric particulate matter (especially during the afternoon and evening). Mathematical simulations demonstrated that a 70% substitution of conventional fuels with biomass and wood leads to an increase of 50% in concentrations of airborne particles. Professor Moussiopoulos noted that the alleviation of this phenomenon requires both the use and regular maintenance of certified combustion systems and the development of a mechanism for controlling the fuel quality.

Prof. K. Sioutas (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Southern California) vividly presented the results of a related study on the issue which was published in one of the top scientific journals on the field worldwide, Environmental Science and Technology. In the introduction to his presentation, he highlighted the significant increase in concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and found that there was a significant deterioration in the quality of urban air in Thessaloniki in 2013 compared with the corresponding data of 2012. In this connection, Professor Sioutas stressed that the active engagement of the public authorities and local services carrying out air quality checks is imperative and that effective strategies to control air pollution in Thessaloniki are urgently required.

In his presentation Mr G. Argyropoulos, a chemical engineer from the Environmental Pollution Control Laboratory of the Department of Chemistry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, emphasized the importance of developing policy tools to reduce particulate matter in the air. He presented the first results of a sampling programme that took place in summer 2011 and winter 2012 which demonstrate a clear difference in relation to the respective results for 2007-2008. It is also apparent that a large part of the increase can be attributed to the combustion of biomass.

The observations of Professor Emeritus L. Sichletidis of the School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessalonik, regarding the impact of atmospheric particulate matter on human health were striking. In his presentation, among other things, he reported on the short-term effects of air pollutants that can lead to respiratory infections (e.g., pneumonia-tuberculosis), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchial asthma, cardiovascular and ocular disease and the long-term ramifications leading to an increased incidence in cancer.



Prof. Ε. Sartzetakis
Scientific Director of the MSc in Sustainable Development
View/Download the presentation
Prof. N. Moussiopoulos
Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
View/Download the presentation
Prof. C. Sioutas
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Southern California
View/Download the presentation
Emeritus Prof. L. Sichletidis, Pulmonologist
School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
View/Download the presentation



The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit of the International Hellenic University, on the initiative of Prof. Ioannis Vlachavas, organised on Friday, 6 December 2013, the first meeting with two of the groups in North Greece who excelled in the Ennovation 2013 competition, the purpose being to support them with mentoring in their next steps.

  • The Pickme team, which won 3rd place, comprised of the following members:

Domniki Kouitzoglou (Dept. of Development and Economics, LSE),
Konstantinos Imprialos (Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Stylianos Moschoglou (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Their idea was a multi-platform and mobile application for personalized daily purchasing choices of users. The user enters his medical profile, scans products utilizing the QR codes technology and receives information about whether and how much of the selected products they should consume.

  • The Easis team, which reached the final, made up of the following team members:

Alexander Arvanitides (MSc in Computer Science at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Maria Panourgia (MSc in Computer Science at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Anna Serafi (MSc in Computer Science at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Antonis Voulgaridis (MSc in Computer Science at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

Easis proposed a web application for keeping medical records online whereby users will also be able to arrange an appointment with any doctor registered on the application. The doctor has online access to the patient file.

Participating in the meeting by providing valuable assistance and knowledge were Professor I. Vlahavas (Dean of the School of Science & Technology, International Hellenic University), G. Gatos (Co-Founder - Business Development, I. Konstas (Head of Education Administration, IHU), Dr C. Berberidis and Dr G. Koutitas (academic associates of the School of Science & Technology, IHU).

View the photos here.


This year's awards were given to the following groups:

1st Prize: TruckBird
2nd Prize: Organery
3rd Prize: PICK-ME
4th Prize: Clio-Muse
5th Prize: Custom Bikes
6th Prize: Priority PMS

The International Hellenic University ICT student, Nick Bakirtzis, received 5th prize for his business idea Custom Bikes and was offered free space in the Embassy of the Netherlands to start his entrepreneurial activity (the orange grove).

The award ceremony ended with the announcement of the launch of the 7th Ennovation 2014 Student Competition by the two Scientific Coordinators of the competition, Prof. G. Doukidis and Asst. Prof K. Pramatari from the Athens University of Economics and Business, in cooperation with Prof. Ioannis Vlahavas, Dean of the School of Science and Technology at the International Hellenic University.

Find out more about the Ennovation competition here!

Press Release (in Greek)


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