Athenians at risk from Olympic dust

Dust kicked up by the dozens of Olympics-related public works projects under way in Athens has contributed to a drastic deterioration in the quality of the air inhaled by over 4 million Athenians, scientists warned yesterday. «Airborne particles are produced by public works, particularly at this point, due to the Olympic projects and with the transportation of all sorts of materials in uncovered trucks,» Nikos Katsaros, head of the Democritus atomic research center, told a conference organized by the Greek Consumers’ Union. He said airborne particles in Athens often far exceed EU safety limits. The head of the Hellenic Thoracic Society, Panayiotis Behrakis, said city-dwellers have become «guinea-pigs» in an experiment whose terms nobody is monitoring. «Our respiratory system is not designed to breathe in airborne particles,» he said. «Exposure to pollution, as well as smoking, are destroying the body’s defense systems that can get rid of airborne particles.» Particles have been linked with cardiovascular problems, cancer and asthma.