The French authorities have decided that transparent and widespread testing of consumer products and the air are vital in reducing the general public’s exposure to toxic chemicals and their efforts are starting to pay off. The results of monitoring studies on diapers and air were separately released last week.
French Study on Disposable Diapers Shows Reduction in Toxic Chemicals
France’s consumer watchdog announced last Thursday a marked decline in the number of toxic chemicals in disposable diapers, after warning last year that babies could be exposed to dangerously high levels from several producers, AFP reported.
The chemicals identified in 2019 included dioxins and furans as well as aromatic compounds produced from oil, some of which are likely carcinogens, and formaldehyde, which has also been shown to cause cancer.
The DGCCRF consumer affairs agency said its latest tests had shown a “marked improvement” among 32 products evaluated, compared with results released in January 2019.
“No new results showed levels above the health limits set for baby diaper exposure,” it said.
Testing also found no traces of pesticide residues such as glyphosate, which was found in the initial testing. However, three samples, including Pampers Premium Protection diapers, had formaldehyde levels still deemed too high.
Two others had worrisome levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that have been linked to cancers as well as cardiovascular disease.
A Pampers executive, Antoine Giuntini, disputed the findings in an interview with the Parisien newspaper, saying its own internal and independent testing had not found any formaldehyde. “This shows that the traces of formaldehyde did not come from our diapers but from somewhere else,” he said.
Last year’s report was described as the first of its kind, and prompted the French government to demand that manufacturers take steps to remove the chemicals.
“France is continuing to push for stricter regulation at the EU level in order to have strict framework for the presence of chemical compounds in baby diapers,” the DGCCRF said Thursday.
French Agency Identifies 75 Pesticides in Air Monitoring Study
A new large French government study has identified 75 different pesticides in the air across France, including 32 deemed to be “a priority to investigate” including Glyphosate and Lindane due to their potential toxicity and links to cancer and endocrine disruption, The Connexion reported.
The study, named the Campagne Nationale Exploratoire des Pesticides (CNEP, the national exploration campaign into pesticides) was the first of its kind in France. It was led by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), the French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks (Ineris) and the Approved Air Quality Surveillance Associations (AASQA).
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The biomonitoring study to measure pesticide residues in the air was conducted from June 2018 to June 2019. A harmonized protocol made it possible to measure 75 substances on 50 sites covering various climate and land-use types across the whole of France.
The collection of nearly 100,000 validated data points and the analysis of 1,800 corresponding samples has made it possible to establish a database which will contribute to improving knowledge of pesticide residues present in ambient air so as to better assess the exposure of the general population. ANSES stated that “ultimately , this campaign will contribute to defining a national strategy for monitoring pesticides in ambient air.”
ANSES added that the results did not suggest “in view of current knowledge, a major health problem associated with the exposure of the general population via outdoor air”, it did say that “further investigation is required” into 32 of the substances found.
Of these, the first priority is to investigate the “Lindane situation”. ANSES said that this insecticide is “considered to be one of the most dangerous substances (with carcinogenic effects, toxic, and a proven endocrine disruptor )”.
Despite being banned since 1998 in France, Lindane was found in 80% of the samples collected (rising to 90% in urban areas).
Glyphosate, the controversial herbicide, was found in 56% of samples, despite clear links having been drawn between its use and increased risk of cancer. Glyphosate was one of nine substances “frequently found” – meaning it was present in at least 20% of samples.
ANSES will now use the results to investigate why certain substances continue to be present in the air, and also to estimate the possible cumulative exposure risk to humans (including via the respiratory system, food, and skin).