On February 10, in Guadeloupe, they were 2,340 to have had their chlordeconemia assessed, that is to say to have measured the quantity of chlordecone contained in their blood, thanks to an analysis possible for all since mid-2022, on simple medical prescription.
Being able to assess one’s level of exposure to this pesticide, an endocrine disruptor and carcinogenic potential authorized in the West Indies until the 1990s, “was a very strong demand in the population”, recalls Jacqueline Deloumeaux, coordinator of Chlorgua, a recently launched study. Thanks to the data of the participants, it intends to “identify the risk factors and measure the impact of the workshops set up by the Regional Health Agency (ARS) to reduce exposure” to chlordecone.
Unable to grow at home
When the blood analysis reveals a rate higher than the toxic reference value (TRV, set at 0.4 micrograms per liter of blood), the people concerned enter a lifestyle assessment course to reduce the risk of infection. exposure, especially food. Because, according to the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES), 2 to 12% of the West Indian population are affected by excesses of the chronic external TRV, that is- i.e. through food. “Exceedings of the internal TRV (in the blood, editor’s note) are around 15% in Guadeloupe”, adds Caroline Corlier, chlordeconemia project manager at the ARS.
On the island, many people grow their fruits and vegetables in their gardens or buy them through informal distribution channels. However, root vegetables or eggs, for those who raise chickens, are serious concentrators of the molecule. It is impossible to cultivate at home or to eat its production with complete peace of mind.
Since 2009, a program called Jafa allows individuals to have their plot analyzed. “Each year, we have between 350 and 400 requests”, explains Axelle Beniey, communication officer at Ireps, program manager. And if the garden is “chlordecone”, as they say, experts come “to show other techniques such as container culture or to direct towards other less sensitive productions”.
In 2021, an ANSES study also started to measure the impact of cooking techniques on the chlordecone content of food. “We need a lot of data to refine prevention techniques”, emphasizes Axelle Beniey, for whom each piece of information is “a bit of power given back to people exposed to pollution that they did not want”.
Especially since the problem has been ignored for years: between the end of the use of the pesticide, the finding of its presence in the soil, water, food and sometimes sick bodies due to contamination, more than fifteen years have passed. Its recognition as an “environmental scandal” by Emmanuel Macron dates from 2018. Since then, the State has multiplied action and communication plans, and prevention websites that are still not very audible.
Indeed, few inhabitants of the island know that if the persistence of the product is strong in the soil, it is much less so in the body, carried away by urine, perspiration or changes in eating habits.
But the authorities’ prevention messages “are struggling to get through, in particular because of a broken bond of trust on the subject”, recalls Laurence Maquiaba, spokesperson for Alyans Nasyonal Gwadloup, a nationalist political party member of Lyannaj. pou dépolyé Gwadloup (“Alliance to depollute Guadeloupe”, in Creole), which militates for a law “of recognition of the crime, of the diseases due to pollution”, since justice, by pronouncing a dismissal on the subject, does not did not do so according to them.
Almost the entire Caribbean population affected
Contaminations. According to Public Health France, more than 90% of West Indians have chlordecone in their blood. Chlordeconemia confirms: the samples show “traces” of the pesticide in everyone.
Health consequences. Prostate cancer, attributed to chlordecone, has the highest incidence in the world in the West Indies: 220 per 100,000 inhabitants. Negative effects on the development of exposed infants have also been noted.
Plan chlordecone IV. Endowed with 91 million euros until 2027, it must, like the three previous ones, finance prevention campaigns, medical research or pollution control techniques.
Leave a Reply