During France’s sweltering heatwave this week, Paris officials have encouraged citizens to remain calm and continue to drink the tap water despite the rumours about the water supply containing dangerous levels of the radioactive isotope tritium.
The Paris region prefecture stood their ground, saying that the water supply wasn’t a public health risk and the rumours on social media were nothing more than “fake news”. Paris water authorities supported this claim as they posted on Twitter, “Tap water can be drunk without restriction”.
Acceptable levels of radiation
The concern was initially brought up by a report from the French organization, the Association for the Control of Radioactivity in the West (ACRO). The report said that roughly 6.4 million people in Paris, Loire, and Vienne were consuming tap water contaminated with tritium. The information was founded on health ministry data, and it included a map displaying the average tritium levels in the tap water throughout the country. Even though the levels are higher in the mentioned areas, the report claims that “no value exceeds the quality criteria (100 Bq/L) introduced by the authorities”.
The Île-de-France regional health authority made a statement saying, “Humans are permanently exposed to natural radioactivity. In France, according to the Institute for Radio protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) water and foodstuffs (namely fruits, vegetables, milk products, meat, fish, and seafood) make up 11 percent of the average radioactivity the population receives. The rest comes from natural surroundings or atmosphere, but also from medical procedures (x-rays)”.
Despite this, rumours went around on social media after a message which was supposedly sent from a Paris “nurse and masseur” to her friends. The message which went viral on WhatsApp said that tritium was a “titanium presence”, and the nurse’s friends were urged to avoid consuming the tap water.
While France anticipated temperatures to exceed 40C in several areas of the country, the Paris water company wanted to put residents at ease.
“Drinking Paris water poses no health threat; tritium is present in infinitely small quantities in water without any risk in the short, medium, or long term,” the water authority, Eau de Paris, posted on Twitter. “The quantities measured in Paris water are much lower than these levels”.