THE CLEAR country air in France may not be quite as fresh as you think - especially if you live near cultivated fields or rolling vineyards.
According to a study, traces of potentially dangerous pesticides have been found in the hair of 30 children who live or go to school in rural France.
The hair samples of the children aged between three and 10, who live or attend school within a kilometre of agricultural land, revealed that 80% were exposed to agricultural pesticides in the three months leading up to a harvest.
In total, 35 of 53 pesticides that are suspected of being able to attack the human hormonal system were found at least once in the samples. Thirteen were found in every sample.
Some of the products detected have been banned from agricultural use for a number of years, though some are still permitted for domestic or veterinary use. These include mosquito repellents, and aphid and flea killers.
According to the study, just over a quarter of the children (26.6%) were exposed to mosquito flea repellents in their homes in the three months leading up to the samples being taken.
The Future Generations association, which conducted the study, admitted the small sample size meant that it was impossible to “consider these results as representative of the average exposure of French youngsters living in agricultural areas”.
But it said that the combination of pesticides detected suggested that they may have a “potentially dangerous” cocktail effect, which have not been so far examined in laboratory tests.