Paris (AFP)

Tap water contains traces of pesticides and suspected endocrine disruptors, denounces Wednesday the association Future Generations, which campaigns against pesticides in agriculture. Without questioning the quality of this water, temper the authorities.

Future Generations has peeled the analyzes carried out by the Regional Health Agencies (ARS), which control the quality of tap water.

In 2018, "90.6% of the population was permanently supplied with water meeting regulatory quality limits for pesticides," according to the ministry.

Drinking water, "the most controlled food in France", meets very strict standards, explains Maryllis Macé, director of the Water Information Center, an association created by water distributors.

For pesticides, "one should not exceed 0.1 microgram per liter and per molecule" and 0.5 microgram any substance, she says.

- Prohibited molecules -

Future generations focused on molecules with "carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic character (CMR)" and "endocrine disrupting potential (PE)" according to the classification of the European Union and the TEDX base for PE, considered by the association as the most complete, in the absence of an official list.

Future generations retained 8,835 analyzes "having revealed the presence of at least one pesticide residue beyond the limits of quantification", on approximately 273,500 samples.

This shows "15,990 individual quantifications of pesticides", of which 38.5% are CMRs, 56.8% of suspected endocrine disruptors, according to Future Generations. The percentage rises to 78.5% by accounting for molecules having one or the other of these properties or both, continues the association.

The health effects of endocrine disruptors are still poorly understood. They worry because they can act at very low levels of exposure and researchers suspect "cocktail effects" in the presence of several substances.

"The proportion of problematic products is really important", criticizes François Veillerette, who regrets the impossibility of comparing the departments, the same substances not being sought everywhere.

"Scientifically they take a very broad definition of these substances," reacted Eugenia Pommaret, director general of the UIPP, the professional union of manufacturers of plant protection products, for whom "detection does not prejudge any risk" for consumers.

Among the ten most quantified molecules, seven have been banned since the 2000s, including metolachlor and atrazine, herbicides, or even oxadixyl, a fungicide. The majority are herbicides.

This persistence is explained by the time necessary for polluted waters to reach the water tables. "We pay for the mistakes of the past," says François Veillerette.

Some of these molecules are the same found in cases of non-compliance with regulatory limits in 2018, such as atrazine or metolachlor.

The Ministry of Health specifies that almost all situations of exceeding the quality limit in 2018 "were limited (e) s in concentration and / or in time, not requiring a restriction of the use of l tap water for drinking. "

For Future Generations, however, the presence of these substances is of concern.

The solution is not to turn to bottled water, but "that an effective policy of reducing the use of pesticides is finally applied", according to his report.

France has launched several plans, known as Ecophyto, to reduce the consumption of phytosanitary products in agriculture, but they ended in failure: this consumption increased by 21% in 2018, when it was supposed to decrease by half in ten years, despite 400 million euros spent.

This objective has been taken up by the European Union. In May, the Commission committed to proposing to halve "the use of pesticides" by 2030.

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