July 15. 2024. 7:51

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French water contains traces of pesticide, study warns

Residues of a fungicide banned in France in 2020 are omnipresent in drinking water, a report by the French National Health Security Agency published on Thursday reads.

Traces of fungicide known as chlorothalonil metabolite R471811 were often found in French drinking water, exceeding the quality limit in more than one sample out of three.

“Of the 157 compounds tested, 89 were quantified at least once in raw water and 77 in treated water,” the report reads.

“These results show that, depending on their properties, some pesticide metabolites can remain present in the environment for several years after the ban on the active substance from which they were derived,” the report concluded.

In 2019, the European Commission did not renew the authorisation for Chlorothalonil, marketed by the German company Syngenta. France allowed a grace period until May 2020 for the disposal of the remaining stocks of the product.

Brussels stressed that it was “impossible to date to establish that the presence of chlorothalonil metabolites in groundwater will not have harmful effects on human health.”

At the time, the Commission cited the conclusions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which considered that chlorothalonil “should be classified as a category 1B carcinogen”, i.e. “suspected” carcinogen.

Anses, for its part, had already taken up this argument in a note last year, recalling that studies on chlorothalonil had identified “kidney tumours in rats and mice”.

These revelations came when Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said he wants to revisit the banning procedure for another product, the agricultural herbicide S-metolachlor – a herbicide that the EU has not yet banned.

Earlier in February, Anses announced its willingness to ban the main uses of this molecule, whose chemical derivatives have been detected above the authorised limits in groundwater.

The French authorities have also been alerted to its frequent presence in Swiss drinking water.

(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)