May 30, 2008

Rhone River Fish Might Be Toxic

People living along France's Rhone River and people who regularly eat fish from the river have tested positive for a toxic chemical, health officials said.

Some of those tested had four to five times the so-called safe level of PCB, or polychlorobiphenyl, in their blood, reported Friday.

PCB is known to be toxic, said Pierre Souvet, president of the medical association in Provence, which carried out the tests on 52 Rhone residents. It can cause cancer, neurological problems in children, and reproductive problems. It can make people sterile.

Scientists say they believe the chemical is in the river's silt. PCB was used in glues, paints and even paper before it was banned in France more than two decades ago.