Athens, Greece has been in economic and social crises after the 2008 global recession, resulting in an increase in wood burning as a cheaper method of residential heating in the winter. Reducing wood burning emissions is a source-specific method to address air quality degradation, and indirectly climate change, through instituting policies aimed at human health co-benefits. In this work, we investigate and quantify the potential health co-benefits from policies reducing outdoor particulate matter (PM) pollution from residential wood burning by assessing the pollution conditions during the 2015 calendar year in Athens, Greece, emphasizing vulnerable populations. We conducted a systematic literature search to extract data regarding effective improvements to outdoor PM due to wood burning interventions, and get a range of potential ambient PM reduction estimates regarding realistic benefits from different interventions. We applied a health impact assessment methodology and used existing Athens specific data to calculate the preventable daily average non-accidental deaths associated with reducing PM, additionally considering low and high socioeconomic status (SES) groups. We found that the reduction in outdoor PM concentration showed the potential to benefit lower SES groups as much as 13.5 times more than the high SES group, representing an opportunity for policies to improve not only the health of the total population but also improve environmental equity and health disparities.
Keywords: Particulate matter; climate change; environmental justice; health impact assessment; intervention; mitigation health co-benefits; wood burning.