Greece yet to apply EU ban on asbestos

Not only has Greece failed to take any action in preparation for 2005 European Union ban on the use of asbestos, but it is the seventh-largest producer of the mineral worldwide, doctors warned yesterday. Speaking at a press conference ahead of the three-day Hellenic Asbestos Conference, which opened in Athens yesterday, Hellenic Thoracic Society Chairman Panayiotis Behrakis said Greece is one of only two EU members not to have adopted any legislation on banning asbestos – whose inhalation causes lung cancer. In 1999, Brussels decided to prohibit use of the mineral from 2005. Laurie Kazan-Allen, coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, said that asbestos is present in many Greek hotels, schools and factories. She said asbestos construction materials in buildings should be located and replaced, or affixed with warning labels.