10/10/2019 2 min

Initial ANSES opinion on the assessment of food risks associated with the industrial fire at the Lubrizol plant

The large plume of smoke produced by the fire at the Lubrizol plant in Rouen, France on 26 September affected several French départements. The authorities rapidly commissioned measurements and sampling in order to assess the impact of any hazardous substances that may have been emitted.

This context led to ANSES being asked to assess the potential food risks associated with the deposition on the ground. The first step involved ensuring that the initial surveillance and sampling measures taken were adequate with regard to agricultural and food production.

To supplement the emergency strategy implemented, a request was also made jointly to ANSES and INERIS, with a view to identifying the main substances liable to have health effects through the different routes of exposure. ANSES's contribution complemented the work of INERIS, the reference body for industrial risks, which drew up a list of substances that may have been released into the environment during this industrial accident, and of the areas that have been exposed to these substances.

ANSES's opinion of 4 October constitutes its initial response to both these requests.

Regarding the food risks, ANSES concludes that the first-line substances screened for (dioxins and furans, PCBs, PAHs and trace metal elements) in agricultural and food products are relevant. It proposes extending the list of substances to other trace metal elements, phthalates and the flame retardants used by firefighters when extinguishing the fire. ANSES also drew up a list of substances to be screened for and measured in livestock feed.

In addition, the Agency recommends taking soil samples for long-term livestock management, especially for animals grazing or pecking the ground in the open air, and determining more precisely the area affected by significant deposition.

More generally, ANSES made recommendations designed to optimise the surveillance and sampling plans put in place and ensure that they are adjusted to take account of the time elapsed since the event, in terms of both the completeness of the information sought, and the methods used for collecting and documenting samples in order to facilitate subsequent data exploitation and interpretation.

Moreover, as part of its coordination mission for the French poison control centres (CAPs), ANSES, together with the operational toxicovigilance unit, reviewed all the calls received by the CAPs in connection with the accident from 26 to 30 September. A total of 51 cases of adverse effects were identified and assessed as minor.

ANSES's expert appraisal work continues, based on the ongoing analyses for different products and environmental media, with a view to defining the necessary medium- and long-term surveillance plans.