The French population highly exposed to heavy metals

Thursday 1er July, the publication of the results of the health study on the environment, biomonitoring, physical activity and nutrition, nicknamed Esteban and led by Public Health France, updated the available data concerning the presence of harmful metals in the organization of the French. And the picture she draws alert. Conducted between April 2014 and March 2016, the study highlights that the exhibitionheavy metals “Concerns all adult and child participants”.

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Among the 27 metals selected because of their harmful effects (carcinogenic, bone, kidney, etc.), we find among others arsenic, chromium, copper, nickel, mercury and cadmium. Their concentrations having been measured in the National Health Nutrition Study (ENNS 2006-2007), the researchers were able to measure their changes.

An increase in cadmium exposure

If the results show an increase in arsenic and mercury impregnation, the increase in cadmium impregnation seems even more worrying. This metal is naturally present in the environment (soil, air, water), as well as in certain industrial and agricultural processes, such as phosphate fertilizers. Since 2012, it has been recognized as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

However, according to the study, nearly half of the French population has a cadmium concentration level higher than that recommended by the National Health Security Agency (ANSES), as well as “Those measured in most similar studies carried out in Europe, in Canada or in the United States ”.

To explain these results, Public Health France points the finger at smoking and the consumption of fish and seafood. “Compared to the ENNS 2006-2007, eating habits have not changed”, raises Clémence Fillol, head of the exhibition monitoring unit. “Several factors can play on this increase”, as ” the strong industrial past of France ”, she considers.

Phosphate fertilizers singled out

President of the Association Santé Environnement France (ASEF), Pierre Souvet judges that these determinants cannot be the only cause of the increase and points out the role of agriculture. “Phosphate fertilizers used in conventional agriculture contain cadmium. This is particularly the case of those from Morocco, which are rich in it while respecting the standards, and which are particularly used in France., he emphasizes. At European level, the limit for the content of these fertilizers has already been lowered by 60 mg / kg in 2018, before moving to 40 mg / kg recently.

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The hypothesis according to which cadmium enrichment in soils would have an impact on its concentration in organisms “Is being explored with our partners from ANSES and INRAE”, says Clémence Fillol.


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