Page thématique

Environmental health

On a day-to-day basis and throughout our lives, the environment is a major determinant of our health.  Whether it concerns chemical substances, airborne particles or electromagnetic waves, ANSES's expertise constantly provides the latest scientific knowledge on the risk factors for environmental exposure. The Agency assesses the risks of environmental pollution and various new technologies, and also evaluates the chemicals found in everyday products.

News

Creosote: Do not reuse treated railway sleepers
Ne pas réutiliser les traverses de chemin de fer créosotés
26/01/2023
News

Creosote: Do not reuse treated railway sleepers

Creosote is highly toxic to health and exposure therefore needs to be kept to a minimum. In France, creosote is only used to treat railway sleepers under very specific conditions. These sleepers should never be reused for fencing or firewood, for example. ANSES has submitted a restriction proposal to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) with a view to harmonising at European level the ban on the reuse of creosote-treated wood in France.
Improve monitoring of GMOs in the environment
Chargement zone portuaire
23/01/2023

Improve monitoring of GMOs in the environment

Following the identification of genetically modified rapeseed plants growing near Rouen, the Agency was asked to assess the effectiveness of the measures applied to eradicate them and prevent the accidental release of GMOs into the environment more generally. It recommends strengthening monitoring plans and, in particular, mapping the areas of France most at risk of their release.
Only use chemicals as a last resort to eradicate bed bugs
Punaises de lit
22/12/2022

Only use chemicals as a last resort to eradicate bed bugs

Once a home is infested with bed bugs, it is difficult to get rid of them. Sometimes, faced with the tenacity of these parasites, people turn to insecticides. However, their use is not without risk: more than 1000 cases of poisoning due to these chemicals, some serious, were recorded between 2007 and 2021. To eradicate bed bugs, you should therefore initially favour non-chemical means.
National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health: results of the 2022 calls for research proposals
19/12/2022

National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health: results of the 2022 calls for research proposals

Forty-two research projects have been selected by ANSES under the 2022 PNR EST call for proposals. They will receive a total of €7.5 million in funding. This research will provide new knowledge on environmental risks to human health, in the general population or at work, as well as on risks to ecosystems.
Chlordecone in the French Caribbean: there are effective ways to reduce dietary exposure
08/12/2022
News

Chlordecone in the French Caribbean: there are effective ways to reduce dietary exposure

ANSES undertook a new expert appraisal on the risks associated with exposure to chlordecone in the French Caribbean population. It confirmed that these risks can be significantly reduced by complying with all of the Agency's recommendations on the consumption of certain foods acquired via informal channels. Moreover, to avoid the contamination of home-produced eggs in particular, the Agency recommends stepping up membership in the JAFA family garden programme.
Plastics are not compatible with domestic composting
Proscrire les matières plastiques du compost domestique
29/11/2022

Plastics are not compatible with domestic composting

More than one in three French people recycle their waste in garden or community composters. In addition to putting vegetable peels and scraps in them, some people add plastic waste, in particular “biodegradable” or “compostable” single-use plastic bags. And yet the total degradation of such plastics is not guaranteed in these composters, which means that use of the resulting compost can pose a risk to humans and the environment. ANSES therefore recommends not placing any plastics in garden composters.
Watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning from your heating systems
chauffage monoxyde carbone
17/11/2022

Watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning from your heating systems

With the arrival of cooler temperatures, ANSES is drawing attention to the risks associated with the use of certain appliances (barbecues, braziers, power generators) that are not intended to heat indoor spaces. The use of these appliances can lead to serious or even fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fuel siphoning: watch out for the risk of poisoning
pénurie carburant station service
03/11/2022

Fuel siphoning: watch out for the risk of poisoning

During the recent fuel shortage, the number of cases of poisoning caused by siphoning increased five-fold. To avoid accidents, ANSES and the French poison control centres strongly discourage this practice.
The Appelsprojetsrecherche.fr portal celebrates its first year
24/10/2022
News

The Appelsprojetsrecherche.fr portal celebrates its first year

ANSES is joining the other founding members of the Appelsprojetsrecherche.fr portal in marking its first anniversary. The portal was created to increase the visibility of project-based research funding opportunities, and centralises all the calls for projects from the major research funding players in France. Besides ANSES, the co-founders of the portal are ADEME, ANR, INCa and Inserm/ANRS-MIE.
New European projects on the horizon, to better protect animal and human health
21/10/2022

New European projects on the horizon, to better protect animal and human health

ANSES is involved in five new projects that have been selected by the EU's Horizon Europe research programme. Some of them started in the first half of 2022, while others will begin this autumn.
Harmonising data to better understand the actual chemical exposure of Europeans
Femme scientifique faisant des analyses
18/10/2022

Harmonising data to better understand the actual chemical exposure of Europeans

The European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU) was the first large-scale European project aiming to harmonise measurements of exposure to chemicals in the population and assess the health effects of this exposure. Having started on 1 January 2017, it ended with a closing meeting in late June 2022. Below we look back at ANSES's contributions, which helped prioritise the substances to be studied and define guidance values associated with health risks for several substances.
Radiofrequencies and health: research in a fast-moving environment
23/11/2022

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Radiofrequencies and health: research in a fast-moving environment

Espace Diderot, 10 Rue Traversière, 75012 Paris
Public : oui
Applications of radiofrequency communication technologies have developed considerably over the last 20 years and now include the mobile web, contactless authentication, connected objects, and more. In a context where uses of these technologies, the conditions of exposure and the frequencies used are rapidly changing, and given the disorders and symptoms that have been attributed to them, the research community continues to be highly active in this area, regularly producing new knowledge on the human health effects of radio waves.

Decryption

Eight questions on exposure to electromagnetic waves
03/01/2023

Eight questions on exposure to electromagnetic waves

Read time: 3 mins
We are exposed to electromagnetic fields and waves on a daily basis: from sunlight, during X-ray examinations, when standing near electrical cables or while using our mobile phones. What exactly are they? What are their potential health effects? Can they also have consequences on animal health? Can we limit our exposure and if so, how? This article provides some answers.
Electromagnetic waves
03/01/2023

Electromagnetic waves

Read time: 4 mins
Our lifestyles are increasingly exposing us to electromagnetic fields and waves, whether from household appliances, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, connected objects, high-voltage lines, etc. ANSES has been working for many years to advance knowledge of the health effects associated with these technologies.
Electromagnetic waves
Risks of dietary exposure to chlordecone in the French Caribbean
19/12/2022

Risks of dietary exposure to chlordecone in the French Caribbean

Read time: 8 mins
Chlordecone is a pesticide that can pose a risk to human health. It was used in banana plantations in the French Caribbean until 1993. Being very persistent, it has permanently contaminated the soil and water, and even today has an impact on crops and livestock production. Since the early 2000s, ANSES has been working to improve knowledge on exposure of the French Caribbean population to this contaminant and the associated health risks. In particular, it has made recommendations on the consumption of locally produced food.
Toxicity reference values (TRVs)
14/12/2022

Toxicity reference values (TRVs)

Read time: 4 mins
As part of its missions and under the French National Environmental & Health Action Plan (2004-2008), the Agency began a national programme on TRVs in 2004 with the aim of building solid French expertise that could be shared by the various competent authorities in this area.
Update on ragweed pollen
29/06/2022

Update on ragweed pollen

Read time: 3 mins
Between 1 and 3.5 million people in France are believed to be allergic to ragweed today. What is ragweed? When do pollen levels peak? Is ragweed present across France? Are there ways of keeping it from spreading? Here is our update on the situation.
PFASs: chemicals in the spotlight
23/05/2022

PFASs: chemicals in the spotlight

Read time: 1 min
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are used in many everyday products (technical clothing, fire-fighting foam, food packaging, etc.) due to their specific chemical properties. Extremely persistent, PFASs are found in all environmental compartments and can contaminate people via the consumption of food and water. As PFASs are a cross-border issue, they are currently monitored and assessed at European level. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are used in many everyday products (technical clothing, fire-fighting foam, food packaging, etc.) due to their specific chemical properties. Extremely persistent, PFASs are found in all environmental compartments and can contaminate people via the consumption of food and water. As PFASs are a cross-border issue, they are currently monitored and assessed at European level.
Pesticides in tap water
02/03/2022

Pesticides in tap water

Read time: 0 mins
As they disperse in the environment after application, the active substances in pesticides can degrade into one or more other compounds called "metabolites". Some of these substances then end up in drinking water. In order to guarantee consumer health, ANSES provides the Directorate General for Health with scientific benchmarks that are invaluable for monitoring tap water quality. To do this, the Agency uses a method for identifying those pesticide metabolites whose presence in drinking water warrants priority attention.
Identifying alternatives to formaldehyde
11/02/2022

Identifying alternatives to formaldehyde

Read time: 6 mins
What is formaldehyde? Formaldehyde is a chemical compound occurring at room temperature as a colourless and flammable gas. It is often marketed in its liquid form, commonly known as formalin. How does exposure to formaldehyde occur? Formaldehyde is used in many occupational sectors and consumer products. It is a biocidal product used as a disinfectant, fixative and preservative. It is found in DIY and cleaning products, in wall coverings, flooring and furniture panelling and fabrics, plastics and other products. In the general population, exposure can occur through a wide range of formaldehyde sources in indoor air, including from fixtures and fittings, and decorating and household products that release formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is also released by combustion of cigarettes and tobacco products, candles, incense sticks and in open fireplaces and combustion appliances such as gas cookers and paraffin stoves. According to the findings of the 2017 SUMER survey, more than 185,000 workers were exposed to formaldehyde (PDF) (in French) (not counting exposure through formaldehyde-based resins and adhesives). The greatest exposure is in the health sector and in anatomical and cytological pathology laboratories (anatomical pathologists), the funeral industry (embalmers), agriculture, the chemical, food, paper and board, timber and furniture industries and in construction. What are the effects on health? The critical effects of acute or chronic formaldehyde exposure in humans are irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract. Airborne formaldehyde also causes nasopharyngeal cancer in humans, as observed in epidemiological studies of workers exposed to high levels of formaldehyde. How is formaldehyde regulated? Key formaldehyde dates: 2004 : The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified formaldehyde as a “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1) for nasopharyngeal cancer by inhalation. 2006 : The French Ministry of Labour included “work involving exposure to formaldehyde” on the list of carcinogenic substances, preparations and processes, as defined by the Labour Code, in an Order dated July 2006. This became effective on 1 January 2007 and requires the implementation of formaldehyde substitution measures as a priority. 2009 : Nasopharyngeal cancer was recognised as an occupational disease (Table 43 bis on cancerous conditions caused by formaldehyde) when linked to exposure in the workplace for 5 years through tasks such as formalin preparation, formaldehyde use in embalming and anatomical and cytological pathology laboratories, manufacture and use of formaldehyde-based resins and wood flooring varnishes, and fire extinguishing. 2014 : Following ANSES’s classification proposal , formaldehyde was classified as a Category 1B carcinogen and Category 2 mutagen at European level by Commission Regulation (EU) No 605/2014 of 5 June 2014. 2019 : A binding occupational exposure limit was adopted at European level (Directive 2019/983/EC), which was then transposed into French law by Decree No 2020-1546 of 9 December 2020. 2020 : Following an evaluation by the German Government, formaldehyde was approved as a biocidal active substance for product types 2 and 3 for a reduced period of 3 years. Companies marketing disinfectant biocidal products containing formaldehyde were required to apply for a marketing authorisation before 1 February 2022, with supporting arguments demonstrating that the products do not cause human or environmental exposure and why they are essential. What does ANSES’s work on the risks associated with formaldehyde use include? For more than ten years, ANSES has been conducting various expert assessments to evaluate the toxicity of formaldehyde, qualify and reduce human exposure, particularly in the workplace, and evaluate health risks. Assessing the risks for people (general population and workers) After formaldehyde was classified by the IARC in June 2004, the Agency was asked to assess the health risks associated with formaldehyde in indoor, outdoor (PDF) (in French) and occupational environments (PDF) (in French) . The main conclusions of two expert appraisal reports published by ANSES in 2008 were as follows: ranking sources of formaldehyde in indoor environments and evaluating their respective contributions to the exposure of the general population is challenging; the risk of cancer in the general population can be ruled out for both adults and children; the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer in workers cannot be ruled out in a number of occupational sectors with repeated high levels of exposure; the formaldehyde content of products intended for the general public should be reduced, and such products should be labelled with their formaldehyde emission levels. Reducing formaldehyde emissions at source In 2006 and 2009, ANSES proposed a protocol to identify and promote “low-emitting” building materials and decorating products among consumers. This work has been useful for developing French legislation on the labelling of these materials. In 2014, ANSES worked on priority chemicals to support the government in implementing future labelling requirements for volatile contaminants from furniture products (PDF) (in French) . Formaldehyde was identified as one of these priority chemicals for labelling. Regulating the use of formaldehyde In 2011, ANSES drafted and submitted a proposal on behalf of the French Government for a stricter classification of formaldehyde at European level. On the basis of this proposal, formaldehyde was classified as a category 1B carcinogen and a category 2 mutagen. In 2013, ANSES and the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands) jointly took charge of the assessment of formaldehyde under the REACH Regulation. Following this review of occupational risks (PDF) (in French) , ANSES identified health risks for workers in several occupational sectors and recommended the implementation of a risk reduction strategy. In 2017, ANSES examined different options for regulatory control of formaldehyde (PDF) (in French) in order to reduce and manage the risks for workers, and recommended the establishment of a binding occupational exposure limit at European level. Establishing health reference values The Agency develops health reference values for the general population and workers based on toxicity data. These reference values are based on health criteria and aim to protect people from any adverse effects due to exposure to chemicals. In 2017, in the light of new published data, it updated the reference values for formaldehyde, the earliest of which dated from 2007: acute and chronic toxicity reference values (TRVs) by inhalation were set at 123 µg.m-3. TRVs are toxicological indicators used to qualify or quantify the risk to human health associated with exposure to a chemical. They are used by companies and research institutions to demonstrate risk management and by government to establish recommendations on risk management; the indoor air quality guideline (IAQG) was set at 100 µg.m-3 to align it with WHO’s 2010 indoor air guideline. ANSES’s recommended IAQGs are airborne chemical concentration thresholds under which no health impacts or harm are expected in the general population; occupational exposure limits (OELs) were aligned with values set by the 2019 European Directive: an 8h-OEL of 350 µg.m-3 and a 15min-STEL of 700 µg.m-3. ANSES’s recommended OELs are usually airborne chemical concentration levels that workers can breathe during a specified period without experiencing adverse health effects. The concentration levels are determined for a homogeneous exposed population (workers) that excludes children and the elderly. Reducing health risks in the workplace Beyond recommending occupational exposure limits for formaldehyde, which will limit exposure levels in the workplace once introduced at the regulatory level, ANSES received a request from the government in 2014 for guidance on the potential substitution of formaldehyde in five occupational sectors : the feed industry (PDF) (in French) , mainly for formaldehyde treatment of soybean cakes; anatomical and cytological pathology (PDF) (in French) in medical diagnostics; embalming (PDF) (in French) ; the food industry, particularly the manufacture of sugar (PDF) (in French) and alginates (PDF) (in French) ; fish farming (PDF) (in French) . To carry out this work, the Agency developed an overall method for comparing a chemical to its alternatives. Expert appraisals in occupational diseases ANSES is currently conducting expert appraisals on the links between occupational exposure to formaldehyde and leukaemia, including myeloid leukaemia. This work will provide the scientific information needed for discussing any changes to the existing occupational disease tables or recommending new tables.
COVID-19 research
02/08/2021

COVID-19 research

Read time: 13 mins
Working at the interface between human and animal health, in the spirit of "One Health", ANSES's laboratories help provide effective, rapid responses to issues of applied research that can be implemented immediately. As an example, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ANSES has been deploying its research teams, its expert knowledge of zoonoses and animal coronaviruses, and its network of laboratories to improve our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and respond to questions that have arisen from this crisis. Here is an overview of the various projects undertaken by the Agency.
Disinfectants for swimming pools and spas – be sure to follow the instructions for use
28/07/2021

Disinfectants for swimming pools and spas – be sure to follow the instructions for use

Read time: 3 mins
ANSES calls for continued vigilance to avoid accidents when using disinfectant products for swimming pools and spas. The Agency recommends strictly observing the instructions for use and safety precautions, only handling the products outdoors or otherwise in a well-ventilated room, not mixing them together in the same container and storing them away from humidity and heat. These products must also be kept out of the reach of children.
Food safety, from farm to fork
21/04/2021

Food safety, from farm to fork

Read time: 0 mins
Milk, meat, vegetables... any of the food we eat can be a source of contamination. Through the transmission of bacteria, parasites, viruses of animal or plant origin, or chemical contaminants, our food can potentially cause illness or poisoning in humans. Food safety forms part of a global "one health" approach, at the interface of animal, plant and human health. To protect consumers from the risks of food contamination and prevent potential outbreaks, it is essential to take action at all stages of the food chain, "from farm to fork". This is ANSES's role.
Learn all about vectors and the issues associated with their control
06/01/2021

Learn all about vectors and the issues associated with their control

Read time: 0 mins
Lyme disease, Zika, chikungunya, dengue... Recent years have seen a re-emergence of the pathogens responsible for these diseases, which are transmitted by insects and other arthropods. On Thursday 17 December 2020, ANSES is hosting a scientific webinar on the new prospects for controlling these species, known as vectors. The Agency is taking this opportunity to explain exactly what these pathogen vectors are: not only tiger mosquitoes and ticks, but other vectors of diseases specifically affecting animals or plants. What is ANSES doing in the areas of expert appraisal and research to address these health issues? All the answers are in this dossier on the subject.

Publications

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Assessment of the risks related to air environments
Date de mise en ligne
18/01/2023
Numéro de saisine
2018-SA-0271
Document PDF
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Assessment of the risks related to physical agents and new technologies
Date de mise en ligne
05/04/2022
Numéro de saisine
2019-SA-0006
Document PDF
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Health reference values
Date de mise en ligne
15/03/2022
Numéro de saisine
2019-SA-0116
Document PDF
Read time: 0 mins
Assessment of the risks related to physical agents and new technologies
Date de mise en ligne
09/03/2022
Numéro de saisine
2018-SA-0168