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Tested, our children are all contaminated

Submitting our children to a test, the toxSeek, designed to detect the molecules toxiques  in the organism: this is the idea we had to try to evaluate the impact of the great chemical bath in which they evolve on a daily basis. And whose harmfulness we are struggling to evaluate in the face of powerful industries. The results are not available at appel : at exposure levels that are often worrying, our young whistleblowers are all contaminated. Survey.

"We found glyphosate in my cheveux ", this information slipped in by Delphine Batho, deputy of Deux-Sèvres and president of Génération Ecologie, during an interview for marieclaire.fr was the trigger. In February 2017, the association Générations Futures (1) analysed the pesticide residues in the hair of seven personalities from the world of ecology (including Minister Nicolas Hulot). All of them were contaminated. Despite the promises made by the President of the Republic, glyphosate, a pesticide of which 9 000 tonnes are dumped into our crops every year, classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organisation, has not been banned. The lobbies of the pesticide industry, which brings in two billion euros a year in France, have won a new battle in the war that pits them against environmental activists but also against the many scientists and worried citizens. Have they at least read, before throwing it in the dustbin, the column "Put our children's health first", by scientist Baskut Tuncak (2)? The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Products and Wastes was alarmed by the fact that "our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides." In their food, water, parks and playgrounds... This exposure in childhood would be a "silent pandemic", responsible for diseases and handicaps". When I submitted to Marie Claire the idea of testing the children of the editorial staff, like the politicians, even the most sceptical immediately accepted. Driven by curiosity, anxiety, the desire to protect them.

Them and all the others. The six children, aged between 4 and 18 years old, became, after taking two strands of hair, the pioneers of a new test just made available to the public, toxSeek (3). And our whistleblowers. We have already carried out tests on vineyard workers, people living near agricultural fields, politicians," explains François Veillerette of Générations Futures. On the hair analyses, we were on 150 molecules. "This new test allows us to screen very large: 1 800 organic pollutants and 40 metals and heavy metals. It's vertiginous, it opens up new horizons."

Vertiginous is the feeling produced by reading the analyses of our young people cobayes : between 40 and 62 chemical molecules were detected in each of them. Pesticides, preservatives, plastic pollutants, parabens, medicines...". These products, even at low doses, have an endocrine disrupting effect and present carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic risks and/or neurotoxiques ", alert their toxicological analysis reports. "This is not acute toxicity but chronic toxicity," explains Matthieu Davoli, co-founder of toxSeek. It is not the dose that makes the poison, but the frequency of exposure to toxic pollutants. By analysing a 3 cm strand of hair, we detect the pollutants we have been exposed to over the last three months. The objective is to identify the strong sources of exposure in order to extract them from our lives."

Sasha, 4 years old: contaminated by 51 molecules at risk*.

Sasha, 4 ans : contaminé par 51 molécules à risque
Photos © Vincent Desailly

Sasha, the only son, lives in Paris with his father and mother in a very urban neighbourhood (10th arrondissement). He goes to the park every night. He has lunch in the canteen and at home he likes everything on his plate. It's very often organic. From time to time he goes to the countryside, near agricultural fields. His mother is in charge of production in Marie Claire.

Exposure level "alert":

furanacrylic acid (no information).

Exposure level "high":

10 molecules.

Niveau d'exposition "low":

40 molecules.

Heavy metals

titanium, lanthanum.

Sarah's reaction, her mother's reaction.
"I was anxious when I received his analyses: no information on the alert molecule (furanacrylic acid); therefore I can't act. However, I have removed his mosquito bracelet (picaridine) and reduced his consumption of potatoes (quinacetol). We need to be more vigilant about cigarette smoke (his father and I smoke) and barbecue fumes (acrylamide), it's the season. I'm not an environmental activist, but I accepted to protect the children."

Sarah's reaction, her mother's reaction.
"I was anxious when I received his analyses: no information on the alert molecule (furanacrylic acid); therefore I can't act. However, I have removed his mosquito bracelet (picaridine) and reduced his consumption of potatoes (quinacetol). We need to be more vigilant about cigarette smoke (his father and I smoke) and barbecue fumes (acrylamide), it's the season. I'm not an environmental activist, but I accepted to protect the children."

Isaure, 13 years old: contaminated by 40 molecules at risk*.

Isaure lives in Paris with his father, mother and older brother. She eats lunch at home, and often outdoors with her friends. She does not eat organic food. But it is varied, with no forbidden food. The best products and junk food. She loves fruits, perfumes and cosmetics. She has a cat. She practices judo and swimming. And goes regularly to the countryside in the Auvergne. Her mother is the editorial director.

Exposure level "alert":

pyrocatechol.

Exposure level "high":

8 molecules.

Niveau d'exposition "low":

31 molecules.

Heavy metals

natural uranium U238.

The reaction of Marianne, her mother
"She loves to have beauty mask evenings with her friends and to wear perfume (pyrocatechol and celestolide). She loves red fruits (morin), she sleeps with the cat (diamfenétide) and, like us, breathes the polluted air of our bottled neighbourhood (grotan OX). And touches our ancient ceramics (natural uranium). I was curious to know what substances my daughter has in her body. I suspected that she was excessive with perfumes and certain cosmetics. This test will help me to make her aware of this. And this investigation will help all of us modulate our lifestyle with reason."

Isaure, 13 ans : contaminée par 40 molécules à risque*
Photos © Vincent Desailly

The reaction of Marianne, her mother
"She loves to have beauty mask evenings with her friends and to wear perfume (pyrocatechol and celestolide). She loves red fruits (morin), she sleeps with the cat (diamfenétide) and, like us, breathes the polluted air of our bottled neighbourhood (grotan OX). And touches our ancient ceramics (natural uranium). I was curious to know what substances my daughter has in her body. I suspected that she was excessive with perfumes and certain cosmetics. This test will help me to make her aware of this. And this investigation will help all of us modulate our lifestyle with reason."

Octave, 5 years old: contaminated by 62 molecules at risk*.

Octave, 5 ans : contaminé par 62 molécules à risque*
Photos © Vincent Desailly

Octave lives in Boulogne-Billancourt with his mother and older sister, Victoria. He eats lunch at the canteen. At home, his food is varied, organic, never industrial. He loves strawberries. He sometimes goes to the country and plays in the city parks. He has a cat. His father is a culture editor.

Exposure level "alert":

diethylcarbamazine, piperonyl butoxide, oxabetrinil, desmedipham.

Exposure level "high":

13 molecules.

Niveau d'exposition "low":

45 molecules.

Heavy metals

pewter, antimony.

The reaction of Alexandra, his mother
"Our cat is not wormed, Octave had to be in contact with those of his friends (diethylcarbamazine and pexantel). He eats corn (oxabetrinil) and loves strawberries (desmédiphame). I will be careful. He has anti-lice treatments and sleeps with an anti-mosquito bracelet (ethyl N-acetyl N-butyl B-alaninate) next to his bed, I threw it away. He has toys and wooden furniture (bentaluron), I confess I didn't think about it. I'm not an environmental activist, but I'm going to be more vigilant."

The reaction of Alexandra, his mother
"Our cat is not wormed, Octave had to be in contact with those of his friends (diethylcarbamazine and pexantel). He eats corn (oxabetrinil) and loves strawberries (desmédiphame). I will be careful. He has anti-lice treatments and sleeps with an anti-mosquito bracelet (ethyl N-acetyl N-butyl B-alaninate) next to his bed, I threw it away. He has toys and wooden furniture (bentaluron), I confess I didn't think about it. I'm not an environmental activist, but I'm going to be more vigilant."

Marty, 18 years old: contaminated by 52 molecules at risk*.

Marty, the only son, lives in Paris with his father and mother. He always had lunch in the canteen. At home, the meals are organic and varied. He likes rice, red meat, fish and seafood. He drinks a little alcohol, smokes occasionally and admits to eating less healthy with his friends. He plays badminton. His mother is an assistant company editor.

Exposure level "alert":

diazinon, metolcarb.

Exposure level "high":

11 molecules.

Niveau d'exposition "low":

39 molecules.

Heavy metals

pewter, thallium.

The reaction of Catherine, his mother.
"The shock was to discover two pesticides on alert (diazinon and metolcarb), one of which, banned in France, in our organic rice imported from Asia. I threw it away. Several pesticides were detected, including one for cattle (rubijervine) ; Marty eats a lot of red meat (not organic). Another (propamocarb), sourced from grass, strawberries and tomatoes, fruits he likes. I inspected his bathroom to remove some suspicious molecules (pyrocatechol and butylparaben) in cosmetics and perfumes. An ecologist at heart, his father also did the test toxSeek to be even more vigilant."

Marty, 18 ans : contaminé par 52 molécules à risque*
Photos © Vincent Desailly

The reaction of Catherine, his mother.
"The shock was to discover two pesticides on alert (diazinon and metolcarb), one of which, banned in France, in our organic rice imported from Asia. I threw it away. Several pesticides were detected, including one for cattle (rubijervine) ; Marty eats a lot of red meat (not organic). Another (propamocarb), sourced from grass, strawberries and tomatoes, fruits he likes. I inspected his bathroom to remove some suspicious molecules (pyrocatechol and butylparaben) in cosmetics and perfumes. An ecologist at heart, his father also did the test toxSeek to be even more vigilant."

Marpessa, 12 years old: contaminated by 57 molecules at risk*.

Marpessa, 12 ans : contaminée par 57 molécules à risque*
Photos © Vincent Desailly

Marpessa, an only daughter, lives in Paris with her father and mother. She has lunch in the canteen. At home, everything is at 95% bio. She loves meat and hates fish. She rarely goes to the countryside, but she goes to the park on the Place des Vosges (4th arrondissement), close to her school. She likes nail polish and complexion correctors. She practices drawing. Her mother is a director of photography.

Exposure level "alert":

diazinon, metolcarb.

Exposure level "high":

10 molecules.

Niveau d'exposition "low":

45 molecules.

Heavy metals

tellurium, lanthanum, natural uranium U238.

The reaction of Maria, his mother
"I am shocked to see that organic rice, the same rice Marty consumes, contains two pesticides (diazinon and metolcarb), one of which is banned in France. In these analyses, my only lead is the shell he uses as a mud (natural uranium). No mosquito repellent is used (allethrin II). I am thinking of sweets and chocolate for the flavouring agent (theobromine), but I have no idea about the traces of drugs (gemfibrozil and emetin) : she is not taking any. I confess that these analyses are disturbing my biological beliefs. But I don't regret it, it makes me think and makes me want to get involved if I have to."

The reaction of Maria, his mother
"I am shocked to see that organic rice, the same rice Marty consumes, contains two pesticides (diazinon and metolcarb), one of which is banned in France. In these analyses, my only lead is the shell he uses as a mud (natural uranium). No mosquito repellent is used (allethrin II). I am thinking of sweets and chocolate for the flavouring agent (theobromine), but I have no idea about the traces of drugs (gemfibrozil and emetin) : she is not taking any. I confess that these analyses are disturbing my biological beliefs. But I don't regret it, it makes me think and makes me want to get involved if I have to."

Violette, 8 years old: contaminated by 4-8 molecules at risk*.

Violette, the youngest of four siblings, lives in Paris with her mother and father. She has lunch at the school canteen once a week. At home, the meals are varied, with often organic vegetables and fruit, fish (once) and meat (four times a week). Every weekend, she goes to her grandparents' house in the country, where they grow their own vegetable garden. Her mother is a digital editor.

Exposure level "alert":

icaridine (insect repellent).

Exposure level "high":

8 molecules.

Niveau d'exposition "low":

39 molecules.

Heavy metals

tin, natural uranium U238.

The reaction of Desirée, her mother
"I immediately took off her mosquito repellent bracelet (icaridine), she slept with it! Like the hair conditioner, which contains butylparaben. The anti-lice too, thrown away. The slug repellent (metaldehyde), I'm thinking of her grandparents' vegetable gardens. Natural uranium is probably his hobby, ceramics. At first, I freaked out. I can't afford to feed my four children exclusively organically. Or to paint the whole flat with natural pigments. We're not environmental activists, but this makes us more vigilant."

Violette, 8 ans : contaminée par 4-8 molécules à risque*
Photos © Vincent Desailly

The reaction of Desirée, her mother
"I immediately took off her mosquito repellent bracelet (icaridine), she slept with it! Like the hair conditioner, which contains butylparaben. The anti-lice too, thrown away. The slug repellent (metaldehyde), I'm thinking of her grandparents' vegetable gardens. Natural uranium is probably his hobby, ceramics. At first, I freaked out. I can't afford to feed my four children exclusively organically. Or to paint the whole flat with natural pigments. We're not environmental activists, but this makes us more vigilant."

As he flips through the reports, behind the mysterious names of the molecules, the way of life and the environment of our enfants : Isaure, 13 years old, likes cosmetics, Violette, 8 years old, is too much exposed to mosquito repellent, Octave, 5 years old, has a lot of pesticides, Sasha, 4 years old, has parents who smoke and like to barbecue...

At the magazine, our reactions are equal to the discoveries: amused when we guess that the natural uranium found in Marpessa, 12 years old, comes from a shell from the war of 14 transformed into a vase on her table at chevet ; at Isaure, the antique ceramics that decorate her appartement ; and at Violette, the ceramics she makes for extracurricular activities. Worried when Sasha's alert molecule, furanacrylic, is still unknown to the toxicological battalion, or when many insecticides are detected in several of our young whistleblowers.

And stunned when it is discovered that Marpessa and my son, Marty, 18, have, at an exposure level of "alert", the same two pesticides out of the thousands existants : diazinon and metolcarb, the latter being withdrawn from the market in the US and Europe, but still used in Vietnam in rice cultivation.

How can they be contaminated by the same organic pollutants without being connaître ? The enigma will not have been long at résoudre : like us, Marpessa's parents consume organic food at 90%. We buy the same French brand of organic rice, imported from Asia, in the same organic shop. Our certainties about the benefits of this agriculture are faltering. For medical toxicologist Nouredine Sadeg, president of toxSeek's scientific committee, this dietary coincidence is "phenomenal"! It's a hard data to find, the sources are so diverses ". As for the questions on the excesses of organic wine, he tempers: "An organic wine may contain traces of pesticides, but be aware that a non-organic wine is sprayed 50 to 80 times. The French state cannot control everything. Especially since, to avoid exceeding the authorised threshold, the strategy consists of no longer using a pesticide in high doses but a mixture of about twenty pesticides in low doses.

Pesticides now affect 100% of the population. Fifty years ago, the quantities produced by the industry were infinitely smaller. The real problem has existed for fifteen years, it's recent."

Our children, alas, are the pesticide generation.

"Second European country after Spain has used the most, 90% of our rivers and 60% to 70% of our water tables are contaminated," deplores François Veillerette. Awareness is real but slow. A fine Ecophyto plan was launched in 2008 to reduce pesticides by 50% by 2018. Résultat : their use has increased by 12% ! It was on the basis of voluntary commitment, not an obligation in the law... "

Yet there is an urgency in a world where sources of contamination are multiplying. " Avant, it was the factory that was releasing heavy metals," explains Dr Sadeg. "Today, with heavy metal-based dyes in nail polish, or the artificial marble in our kitchens, new technologies and our mobile phones, nanoparticles sold by millions of tonnes worldwide, we are entering into widespread contamination. Hence the interest of a broad screening to detect the sources of pollution.» And thus better protect the health of our children.

"Une Some of the chronic illnesses and neurodevelopmental disorders that occur in children today, confirms environmental epidemiologist Rémy Slama, director of research at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, is due to environmental factors: fine airborne particles, pesticide residues, heavy metals such as lead, or persistent organic pollutants. "His study, conducted on 529 boys and their mothers, showed that exposure during pregnancy to certain phenols and phthalates is associated with changes in growth and behaviour between o and 5 years of age.

". In particular, we are concerned about triclosan, a biocide used as an antibacterial agent in soaps and toothpastes, which is found in most pregnant women. It seems to reduce the growth of the cranial perimeter of male foetuses, it disturbs the thyroid axis, essential for brain development".

At toxSeek, Matthieu Davoli is pragmatic: "We all react differently to pollutants and, during growth, for our children, the risks are much greater. We talk about windows of susceptibility. It's good for the youngest ones that we have to act". "And for that, Dr. Sadeg continues, objective criteria are needed through data collection. As the tests are "pseudonomysed", we are going to create a forum where the "toxSeekfollowers" will help to trace the sources of contamination to enrich our database. "If tomorrow 50,000 citizens discover their glyphosate contamination and take action, it is very likely that more MEPs will be in the Chamber than on 29 May to vote for a ban this time.

1. generations-futures. fr. - 2. published in Le Monde on 6 November 2017. - 3. cost: from 190 €, results within twenty days, toxSeek. (*) Find details on the molecules cited on marieclaire.fr.