Families living in the Orbiel Valley in the Aude, where 38 children have high levels of arsenic after floods, met Friday, August 16 in Carcassonne to demonstrate and request new screening.
Families still worried and angry. While the Regional Health Agency (ARS) recently discovered that 38 children in the Orbiel Valley, Aude, had high arsenic levels, their parents and relatives met Friday, August 16 in front of the hospital in Carcassonne to protest and ask for new screening. They suspect the old Salsigne gold mine, closed for fifteen years, to be the source of this contamination. In fact, the operation left toxic residues in the valley. And when the L'Orbiel River overflowed on October 15, 2018, it moved the risk geographically.
"I am angry because after the floods, there is no precautionary principle that has been taken," says the mother of little Rio, 4 years and concerned, to France Info. According to her, her child's spasms and stomachaches began after the October flood, while playing in her school's playground. "The children have been in the yard for six months, already they are exposed to the air because we are in the Orbiel Valley ... It's an environmental disaster." Public services do nothing at all It is non-assistance to anyone in danger, "she rebels..
Another parent is convinced that two of his children have been contaminated with arsenic particles in the air. "Today, we do not know if with rates like that, in twenty years, my daughter will develop a disease, a cancer.No parent here wants to take the risk," says a father to France Info.
"An anxiety-provoking climate"
Since the beginning of the summer, the ARS has been analyzing children in the Orbiel Valley. Of the 103 children tested, 38 had a high arsenic level, above the reference value of 10 micrograms per gram of creatinine, a normal metabolic waste produced by the body. And according to parents, despite these worrying figures, the agency is downplaying the situation. While she has recommended a second test within two months for overexposed children, to determine whether the established rates are evidence of recent or chronic exposure, she gives little information on how to proceed in the meantime.
"We follow the protocol of the ARS for children (which recommends avoiding contact with toxic residues, Ed.) But as an adult, we would like to know also how much we are also exposed" , commented to AFP Emeline Févotte, delegate of Lastours parents of students, whose children were tested at 27 and 36 μg / g of creatinine last June. "We are destabilized, it creates a climate of anxiety because we do not know how to avoid contact" with sources of pollution, she explains. The parents claim, among other things, that a screening, reimbursed, is also set up for adults.
In July, a general practitioner had already accused the LRA of being "wait and see" in a newspaper interview The independent. "Today, I tell people whose land has been flooded to avoid growing vegetables, to use the wells.As soon as we have the recommendations of the HAS, I can tell people what the we can do, if there is a possibility of reimbursing costly analyzes, "he denounced.
Arsenic, a pollutant regulated since 2005 in Europe
"We have been fighting for twenty-three years to denounce the pollution of the Orbiel Valley. "All this could have been avoided", laments today Guy Augé, president of the association of the residents of Salsigne, also present at the event of Friday.
Arsenic is a highly toxic element and a regulated pollutant since 2005 in Europe. Work published last May showed that arsenic in private well water can alter the structure of the heart and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Its toxicity is such that, according to another study published in 2007, more than 137 million people living in more than 70 countries are likely affected by chronic arsenic intoxication from water consumed.