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The national PCB action plan continues to monitor contamination

Monitoring of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination of sediment and fish continues in the framework of the national PCB action plan. For the second straight year, fish and sediment samples were collected in May and June 2009 to determine PCB levels.

In 2008, samples were drawn from the 107 sites considered most endangered, i.e. where the sediment was the most contaminated. They were located essentially in the Seine-Normandie, Rhône-Méditerranée and Artois-Picardie basins.
This year, the selection of the 104 sampled sites took into account health objectives, i.e. the priority was placed on professional-fishing zones, such as the Loire and Garonne rivers. In addition, certain samples were taken to complement the 2008 campaign because the data for some sections was insufficient for AFFSA (French agency for food safety) to draw valid health conclusions.

Similar to last year, Onema technical personnel took the fish samples, occasionally calling on professional fishermen. The instructions were the same, i.e. to draw from each site two types of species, one subject to high bioaccumulation such as eels, and one subject to low bioaccumulation such as roach.

Five batches of each species were collected and sent to ADIV (meat-industry development association), the entity in charge of preparing the samples which were then analysed by Laberca (laboratory for the study of residues and contaminants in food).

The results for certain priority basins, e.g. the Loire and Garonne rivers, should be available for evaluation by AFFSA before the end of the year and all results should be ready by spring 2010. The Water agencies are responsible for sediment samples and will have them analysed by a lab.

All results for both fish and sediment will be stored in a database. The 2008 results are already available and AFSSA has issued opinions or "health notices" for certain river sections. These opinions were transmitted by the Fisheries and Health ministries to the prefects who may issue orders to forbid consumption of certain species in given sectors.

A portal for public access is currently being set up. By the end of the year, it will be possible to see the analysis results and access the health notices and the corresponding orders by prefects.


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