Could fumes from mounds of rotting algae have killed a man? That is the strong suspicion in northwest France after a lorry driver transporting toxic seaweed crashed his vehicle and died. Initially put down to a heart attack, it is now thought his death is linked to gas emitted by the load he was carrying. It has heightened fears over the tonnes of noxious seaweed washing up on beaches in Brittany.
Andre Ollivro from the environmental group “Halte aux marées vertes” complained that authorities only react when a tragedy has happened. Last month, Paris pledged to lead a clean-up operation, vowing to cut levels of the farm chemicals green groups say make their way onto the coastline and lead to the emission of dangerous fumes. A horse’s death and its rider’s loss of consciousness had already been put down to the algae. Docteur Claude Lesne from the CNRS, France’s Centre for Scientific Research, fears a number of cases are linked, describing the gas released from the seaweed as poison when it comes to breathing. The potentially deadly algae is also a problem on Britain’s south coast where authorities have warned that it is threatening wildlife.