In Pierre-Bénite it is very simple, they are everywhere. In the water, in the air, in the ground. Perfluorinated or PFAS are found in breast milk. Worse: these chemical pollutants have the special feature of being “eternal”, that is, they do not degrade. So the more we produce, the more we add. The human body also accumulates them.
Martin Boudot, investigative journalist, investigated the perfluorinated in Pierre-Bénite for Correspondent (France 2). Two days before the release of his report, he presented his findings at the Maison de l’Environnement in Lyon on Tuesday night. “I did not expect such high prices, especially at the stadium where the kids play,” he admits.
Substances present in everyday life
Martin Boudot has long studied perfluorides and the scandals they have already caused in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. “And in France? He wondered.” I was looking for companies that used perfluorides, thanks to scientific publications, and two hotspots appeared: one in Oise, the other in Pierre-Bénite, “he explains. In this city south for Lyon lies the industrial areas of Daikin and Arkama, which produce and reject these substances, which are found in many everyday consumer products: food packaging, insulation, raincoats, etc.
The journalist took air, water and soil samples near these sites and gave them to Professor Jacob de Boer for analysis. The expert’s results are even more alarming than expected. Perfluorinated levels are extremely high and involve significant health risks. “It weakens the immune system as a whole and it reduces the vaccine response, especially in children,” says Martin Boudot. “Not to mention the many carcinogenic effects, on the liver, kidneys … And the endocrine disrupting component.”
In the absence of standards, a ban is recommended
Can manufacturers dispense with these substances used since the 1960s? In any case, researchers are in favor of their ban. Also the European Commission, which “last week promulgated a law that will allow Member States to no longer ban substance after substance – there are 4,500 perfluorinated substances – but family by family”, Martin Boudot clarifies. “The states still have to take over, including France, which has been behind for a long time.”
France is actually seriously behind with the issue of standards: “We have almost none, or even none on perfluorinated substances”, the journalist adds. “We have to review European standards. It is both a health and environmental scandal, but also a political one, because nothing has been done in the last ten years, while our neighbors have long warned people at home to reduce their exposure to perfluorides, ”he recalls.
Message received by the metropolis Lyon and the prefecture of Rhône
Like any health scandal, the perfluoride scandal extends far beyond Pierre-Bénite: Santé Publique France conducted a recent study showing that almost all French people have traces of perfluoride in their bodies. “The issue is really political,” Martin Boudot insists. And it was heard.
Shortly after the presentation of the results of its study, the metropolis of Lyon stated in a press release that “the fight against health problems from industrial pollution must first and foremost go through an extension of national and European standards and regulations”, and by “strengthening control (…) immediately ”.
The Rhône prefecture, for its part, stated that the state services would establish “very soon an in-depth monitoring of perfluorinated discharges. On the basis of this monitoring, the (…) inspection of classified facilities will visit each operator and strive to monitor the discharge. of the substances concerned ”.