The hot winds from the Sahara offered an unprecedented spectacle to the French during the month of February, but it is now proven that they carried radioactive particles.

These would be the consequence of nuclear tests carried out in the 1960s by the French army.

On two occasions during the month of February, the French were able to observe a spectacular phenomenon: a dark and orange sky above the country due to the sands of the Sahara carried by the wind.

But they brought with them, among other things, Cesium 137, a radioactive component.

This substance was found on the windshields of cars, from the Lyon region to Normandy. 

Stormy # Autan wind (110 km / h) and Sahara sand this February 21, 2021 in #Toulouse.

- Matthieu Sorel (@MatthieuSorel) February 21, 2021

This thin layer of yellowish dust comes from nuclear tests explains Pierre Barbet, of the association for the control of radioactivity in the West: "France carried out nuclear tests in the Sahara at the very beginning of the 1960s and particles left in the atmosphere… but there was fallout on the ground. "

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Minimal health risk

This dust in the wind has been inhaled by many people.

However, it is difficult to measure their effects on health: "This corresponds more to environmental pollution than to a health impact", considers Pierre Barbet.

"We would have little means to identify it, to characterize it."

The quantity recently fallen in France is tiny, specifies the scientist.