01/07/2021 2 min

Better characterising the exposure of French Caribbean populations to chlordecone through food

ANSES has launched the ChlorExpo study in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Its aim is to obtain a more accurate picture of the population's level of dietary exposure to chlordecone, guided by the latest knowledge on the risks of exposure to this chemical contaminant. In order to take better account of local food procurement, preparation and cooking practices, ANSES is carrying out a scientific survey among residents this summer. The findings will be used to help limit the population's exposure, without requiring them to abandon local products or production and distribution methods.

The first stage of the ChlorExpo study consists of a survey, carried out for ANSES by Ipsos Antilles, which will be conducted throughout Guadeloupe and Martinique. In total, around 750 households in Guadeloupe and 750 in Martinique will take part in the survey, which will run for about two months from the beginning of July. Participants will be selected in order to obtain a representative sample of the population, and the survey will be conducted in their homes. Residents will be asked about their purchasing habits and cooking methods for the foods that contribute most to chlordecone exposure. All data collected will be kept strictly confidential. The participants' involvement is invaluable, as it guarantees the scientific quality of the results.     

The ChlorExpo scientific study

Following on from the Kannari study, which identified the food supply channels and production areas that increased the risk of chlordecone exposure, as well as the populations concerned, the ChlorExpo study aims to deepen this knowledge, by examining in particular the effect of the cooking method on the chlordecone content of food. This is because laboratory work by the Agency indicates that cooking can reduce the amount of chlordecone transmitted through food. 

Based on the results of the survey conducted this summer, ANSES will take food samples and prepare them according to local practices, before analysing their chlordecone content in the laboratory. This will make it possible to identify and quantify more precisely the risks associated with dietary exposure to chlordecone for the French Caribbean population and to issue, if necessary, new recommendations on eating habits, such as food preparation (peeling, etc.) and cooking methods. The aim is to reduce the population's exposure to chlordecone without requiring them to abandon local products or production and distribution methods.

The ChlorExpo study is part of the national chlordecone IV plan (2021-2027), one of whose measures concerns the reassessment of dietary exposure of populations to chlordecone. It is being funded by the Ministry of Solidarity and Health's Directorate General for Health (DGS) and ANSES.