Despite warnings, asbestos still a hazard

Since last January the sale and use of asbestos has been banned in Greece, yet we have neither solved problems with this carcinogen’s uses nor got rid of it entirely. Because of the widespread use of asbestos in Greece in recent decades, it is ubiquitous in public buildings, hospitals, schools, places of work, homes and in everyday objects like brake pads in cars, seatbelts, house paints, heat insulation gloves, coated frying pans and ironing pads. Symptoms caused by exposure to asbestos usually appear 15, 20, sometimes even 40 years later. It is only now, unfortunately, that we can start counting the victims of this very dangerous substance. Over the past six years, diseases caused by asbestos have doubled. Experts say that at least 100,000 Greeks have been exposed to the substance without realizing the risks, particularly since the 1970s. At the same time, there has been a lack of any concerted policy for managing and replacing the material and inadequate control mechanisms. Above all, there has been utter indifference to keeping track of who has been exposed to asbestos. These people run the risk of contracting cancer, and no one has cared for them or offered them medical tests. No solution seems to be in sight, since the substance is still in circulation at supply yards and no information is available to those using it regarding the risks involved.