Does the Ivry-Paris XIII incinerator, the largest in Europe, represent a threat to its many residents? An unprecedented study to which The world had access revives the debate. It indeed reveals high levels of dioxins around the plant, located on the edge of the ring road, straddling the 13e arrondissement of Paris and the commune of Ivry-sur-Seine, in Val-de-Marne. Every hour, 100 tons of household waste – from fourteen municipalities – go up in smoke in its two large chimneys with its fumes of nitrogen and sulfur oxides, hydrochloric acid, dust, heavy metals or even dioxins. As toxic as they are persistent in the environment, dioxins are on the World Health Organization’s blacklist of chemical compounds of greatest concern. They are classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Dangerous even in minute doses, they accumulate in the food chain.
The study was carried out by the ToxicoWatch foundation, a Dutch NGO made up of researchers who are benchmarks in the toxicological analysis of pollutants emitted by incinerators and in particular dioxins. The investigation was carried out at the request of the 3R collective (Reduce, reuse, recycle), which campaigns for alternatives to waste incineration. It is part of a European biomonitoring research program concerning several incineration centers in Spain (Madrid and Zubieta), the Czech Republic (Pilsen) and Lithuania (Kaunas).
Biomonitoring studies make it possible to assess exposure to pollutants based on biomarkers. Three markers were chosen for this study: eggs from free-range hens, tree foliage and mosses. All show high levels of dioxins, often above health standards and among the highest values found in Europe by ToxicoWatch.
Eggs to assess the level of contamination
Chicken eggs are used in many scientific publications to assess the level of contamination of the environment: dioxins will concentrate there by a phenomenon of bioaccumulation. Samples were taken from eight henhouses located within an area between 800 and 3,000 meters from the incinerator, in the municipalities of Ivry-sur-Seine, Paris and Alfortville.
With the exception of a hen house, all the samples show dioxin concentration levels above European food safety limits. And in significant proportions: between twice and more than four times the limit value, set at 5 picograms (pg) per gram of fat. In other words, if these eggs were produced for sale, they would be prohibited for sale. By way of comparison, the “control” egg, bought in a supermarket in Ivry-sur-Seine, has a dioxin concentration of 0.5 pg/g.
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