There is new concern over a pollution scare in France. People living along the Rhone river, and regular eaters of fish caught in it, have tested positive for dangerously high levels of a carcinogenic chemical in their blood. Some exhibited four to five times the so-called ‘safe’ level of PCBs, or polychlorobiphenyles.
“PCB is known to be toxic,” said Pierre Souvet, the president of the medical association in Provence (ASEP) which carried out the tests on 52 Rhone residents. “It can cause cancer, neurological problems in children, and reproductive problems. It can make people sterile.”
Scientists believe the chemical is in the river silt. A ban on eating fish caught in the Rhone had been partially lifted. Now it is feared the Seine may be equally polluted.
Despite being banned from sale for industrial use in France for more than 20 years, PCB was used in glues, paints and even paper.
The startling results of this limited study have now prompted a two year national enquiry to find out just how dangerous France’s rivers are.