Warning about fire emissions issued

Greece’s recent deadly wildfires emitted more dioxins than Germany’s industrial sector does in a year, a local environmental scientist claimed amid wider calls by field experts for emergency action to prevent longer-term consequences that would be detrimental to the economy, environment and public health. Experts warned that swift action was needed to locate where the emissions had settled, test regional soil, livestock and water samples, and then implement safety measures. Scientists criticized the government for focusing entirely on anti-flood works. «Research determining the extent of the pollution’s effect on the environment needs to be conducted along with the flood-protection works,» said Yiannis Koumantakis, a professor of geology and hydrogeology at the National Technical University of Athens. «Immediate proposals are needed to deal with this extremely serious issue, because if things remain as they are, this will lead to a second, perhaps bigger, catastrophe with consequences on the economy, environment and, above all, public health.» Describing the fire tragedy as unprecedented and particularly complex for the nation, Polyxeni Nikolopoulou-Stamati, an assistant professor at Athens Medical School, warned that «the dioxins emitted are capable of storing themselves in animal fat, as well as that of humans, prompting mutations and birth defects.» Nikolopoulou-Stamati also warned that the emissions contained carcinogenic elements.