Human health risks related to the consumption of foodstuffs of plant and animal origin produced on a site polluted by chemical munitions of the First World War

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Gorecki, Sébastien | Nesslany, Fabrice | Hube, Daniel | Mullot, Jean-Ulrich | Vasseur, Paule | Marchioni, Eric | Camel, Valérie | Noel, Laurent | Le Bizec, Bruno | Guérin, Thierry | Feidt, Cyril | Archer, Xavier | Mahé, Aurélie | Rivière, Gilles

Edité par HAL CCSD ; Elsevier

International audience. Shells fired during World War I exhibited different explosive compounds and some of these weapons also contained a wide variety of chemical warfare agents. At the end of the war, for safety purposes, the large quantity of weapons remaining on the former front needed to be dismantled and destroyed. A large amount of the remaining shells was destroyed in specific sites which led to the contamination of the surroundings in Belgium and France.In the 1920s, 1.5 million chemical shells and 30,000 explosive shells were destroyed in a place close to the city of Verdun, in the East of France. In this paper, the risk for human health related to the consumption of foodstuffs produced on this site was assessed. To this end, food products of plant and animal origin were sampled in 2015-2016 and contaminant analyses were conducted. Human exposure was assessed using a specifically built methodology. The contaminants considered in this study were trace elements (TEs - primarily Zn, As, Pb and Cd), nitroaromatic explosives (trinitrotoluene, 2,4-dinitrotoluene, 2,6-dinitrotoluene, 2-amino-4,6-dinitroluene and 4-amino-2,6-dinitrotoluene), phenylarsenic compounds including diphenylarsinic acid and triphenylarsine, perchlorate, tetrabromoethane and vinyl bromide. Depending on the compound, different approaches were used to assess the risk for both adults and children.Exposure to these contaminants through the consumption of foodstuffs produced locally on the considered site was unlikely to be a health concern. However, as for inorganic arsenic, given the presence of highly contaminated zones, it was suggested that cereals should not be grown on certain plots.

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