The National Health Security Agency (ANSES), the air quality monitoring body ATMO France and the National Institute for the Industrial Environment and Risks (INERIS) launched this Monday the first study to measure the levels of pesticides present in the air.
In 2016, the National Agency for Food Safety, Environment and Labor (ANSES) had quietly published - without a press release or press conference - a report on the exposure of farmers to pesticides, the result of five years of work.
However, French exposure to plant protection products in the air remains largely under-documented due to lack of independent studies. On Monday, June 25th, ANSES launched the first study to measure pesticide residues in the air, in order to measure the chronic exposure of the population and define the places of overexposure. "This is a major subject, explains Mathilde Merlo, head of plant protection phytopharmacovigilance at ANSES, a campaign that has no equivalent at European level".
1500 samples taken from 50 different French sites
In the long term, this study "will define the modalities of a national long-term strategy for monitoring pesticide residues in ambient air", indicated the National Health Security Agency (ANSES), the body responsible for monitoring pesticides. air quality ATMO France and the National Institute of Industrial Environment and Risks (Ineris). Carried out on 50 different sites in metropolitan France and overseas, this measurement campaign will be carried out in urban, peri-urban and rural areas (52% urban and 48% rural) and agricultural production: field crops (40%), wine-growing sites ( 22%), arboreal (22%), market gardening (14%) and livestock (6%).
Specifically, 1500 samples of 82 chemicals contained in plant protection products, biocides, veterinary medicinal products and antiparasitic agents for human use will be collected. Associations approved for air quality monitoring, such as Airparif or Air PACA, will then measure the samples.
The substances to be sampled have been defined according to their presence in the air and their degree of dangerousness. Among them, Chlordecone, an ultra-toxic pesticide used massively from 1972 to 1993 in the Caribbean banana plantations. To date, almost all Guadeloupe (95%) and Martinique (92%) have been contaminated. Or the glyphosate, which the government should have permanently disappeared in three years. "Glyphosate requires a heavy investment in research, says Mathilde Merlo. Unlike other pesticides, we had to develop an analytical technique of its own. "The results of this study will be released in late 2019 - early 2020.
The risks of overexposure to pesticides
According to Public Health France, the number of people with Parkinson's disease will have increased by 56% in 2030. Farmers and residents have 10% risk in addition to contracting the disease, especially because of their exposure to pesticides. In 2015, Why Doctor had met Paul François, a pesticide-addicted farmer in 2004. He had raised neurological issues, "evolving brain tasks", resulting in pain in the legs, hands and feet. headaches sometimes so violent that they require hospitalization. "I thought I was good for a big headache ... I did 12 comas in 3 months," he explained.
In 2012, Bruno Le Maire - then Minister of Agriculture - officially recognized Parkinson's disease as a professional disease of farmers, in a decree published in Official newspaper. According to the text, farmers must have been exposed to pesticides for at least 10 years and have experienced the first symptoms one year after the end of this exposure to be recognized as an occupational disease.
Pesticides in food
In February, the NGO Générations futures denounced the presence of pesticide residues in several fruits and vegetables marketed in supermarkets after studying the official data of the General Directorate of the Fraud Control (DGCCRF) between 2012 and 2016, that is 30 samples of 19 fruits and 33 vegetables very consumed. In order to take stock of the issue, Grennpeace conducted the field survey of farmers and women farmers who supply major brands. According to its ranking, Carrefour and Monoprix would be the most committed, followed by Système U and Intermarché while Auchan and Casino are rated as bad students.