In this part of France, it is no longer possible to grow your own fruits and vegetables

The authorities strongly advise against growing fruit and vegetables in this commune in France.

In this part of France, it is no longer possible to grow your own fruits and vegetables

The authorities strongly advise against growing fruit and vegetables in this commune in France.

The quality of water in France is increasingly scrutinized and recent press investigations question the possible presence of PFAS, better known as "eternal pollutants", in tap water. Among them, poly- and perfluoroalkyl compounds (a family of more than 4,700 molecules) are used everywhere (packaging, textiles, automobiles, etc.) for their very high resistance. But their presence is now long-lasting and, in case of overexposure, they can prove toxic.

In the commune of Pierre-Bénite, in Lyon, water quality and PFAS have already changed the daily lives of residents, as reported by France 3 Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. In reaction to the scandal surrounding the Arkema chemical factory, in the heart of the Pierre-Bénite industrial platform, she requested a study which delivered new worrying figures and pushed the latter to communicate, this Monday, March 4, new recommendations to residents.

In order to “limit exposure to PFAS as much as possible”, the prefecture recommends “not consuming fruits and vegetables produced in vegetable gardens in this sector”, that is to say within a radius of 500 meters around from the Arkema site. She also recommends “not using water from private wells, nor rainwater, for any purpose”. As indicated by France 3, the latest readings carried out in the underground water of a private well, located to the south of the town, contained “up to 3.52 μg/L of PFAS”, i.e. a level 35 times higher than the 0.1 μg/L authorized by European regulations for drinking water. In July 2023, Arkema had already advised residents not to consume fruits and vegetables produced in its allotment gardens. Fruits and vegetables are added to eggs and fish, which are already not recommended for local residents.

On Saturday March 2, hundreds of environmental activists from the Extinction Rebellion and Youth for Climate collectives entered the Arkema factory in Pierre-Bénite by force, to denounce PFAS pollution. According to Le Monde, more than 300 individuals took part in this action and several were arrested. This act of denunciation echoes the collective complaints launched by several communities and individuals for "endangering the lives of others" in the face of "alarming concentrations" of PFAS from industrial sites present near the Arkema factory.

After the publication of several press articles about this factory in 2022, checks were carried out, in particular by the regional health agency (ARS). According to France 3, the results of the environmental study in which Arkema is engaged is a first step. The prefecture specified that “more in-depth reflection in terms of general recommendations is being carried out concerning the zone greater than 500 meters in conjunction with the national authorities”.

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