This Wednesday, April 5, 2023, Le Monde had access to a damning report, for the moment confidential, from the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Anses). This reveals that “drinking water is contaminated in France on a large scale by the metabolites of chlorothalonil, a pesticide banned since 2019”.

This pesticide has been classified as a probable carcinogen and banned in Europe since 2019. Marketed by Syngenta and used since 1970, it will have been used in agriculture for almost 50 years. Today, according to ANSES, the level of residual molecules of chlorothalonil present in drinking water greatly exceeds the regulatory level in 34% of cases, i.e. in 1/3 of French territory. Worse: ANSES’s results are only partial. Some territories should be even more affected.

Pesticides, during their spreading and their penetration into the soil, can degrade into one or more molecules called “metabolites”. However, according to ANSES, “some of these substances are found in water intended for human consumption (EDCH)”, by infecting surface water and groundwater. This is why ANSES’s mission is to guarantee consumer health and to provide the Directorate General for Health with studies on the quality of tap water.

Until now, experts were not looking for the presence of this metabolite (R471811) since some of the approved laboratories were not able to measure it. However, now, there is an almost generalized presence of this residual trace of the pesticide chlorothalonil.

According to our colleagues from Le Monde, “it’s a disaster like drinking water producers have probably never experienced, the bill for which could amount to billions of euros.” In fact, to return to compliant water, the investments will be colossal and consumers will be involved in this financing.

Discover in our slideshow below the water quality in your area*.

*The information provided is based on data from UFC-Que Choisir as of April 6, 2023 and is subject to change.