NEWS

Asbestos threat in buildings

Concern is mounting over the large number of buildings that contain asbestos in their construction after an Athens lower civil courthouse closed recently as a result of protests by staff over risks to their health from asbestos in the roof. «The presence of asbestos is linked to the ‘sick building syndrome,’» Michalis Halaris, general secretary of the Union of Greek Chemists, told Kathimerini. «The only solution is to demolish the building.» Over 500 tons of the material were removed from the Athens Hilton during its renovation. Asbestos has been detected in over 50 school buildings around the country, but there has been no action to remove it. Greece has not yet implemented the European Union directive on banning the use of asbestos. No legislative framework exists, although the deadline is 2005. Greece is the seventh largest producer of asbestos in the world, with a mine in Kozani, northern Greece. According to the World Health Organization, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, which can cause cancer and serious respiratory ailments.