The research, led by Constantinos Sioutas of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, show that the concentration of fine airbrone particulate has jumped 30 percent in the hardest his region of Greece.
"People need to stay warm...economic hardship has compelled residents to burn low quality fuel, such as wood and waste materials, that pollutes the air," says Sioutas
The choice may have serious long-term health effects. These fine particles – measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter (approximately 1/30th the diameter of a human hair) – are especially dangerous as they are known to lodge deep into the tissue of lungs.
Unemployment in Greece climbed above 27 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, heating oil prices have nearly tripled. Many residents have turned to wood, even trash as a fuel source.