Asbestos lurks in classrooms

The new school year begins today but hundreds of children will be attending classes in buildings that have been constructed with the use of the carcinogenic substance asbestos, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. According to the School Buildings Organization (OSK), 740 schools have been identified as containing the material, which is now banned by the European Union. At present, the asbestos has only been removed from 236 of these schools. «For 25 years, nobody dealt with the problem,» said OSK Managing Director Panayiotis Pataryias. «We also lost time making checks… but now we have the experience and the work is progressing quickly.» Authorities admit that not all of Greece’s 16,000 school buildings have been checked yet and they estimate that it will cost some 50 million euros to remove the asbestos from all the schools. It costs 1.50 euros per kilo to ship the material to Germany, where it is disposed of safely.