Deadly Algae Have Been Accumulating for Decades along the Coast of France
For decades, potentially deadly green algae have been accumulating in the bays on the northwestern French coast of Brittany, according to the Guardian newspaper. According to environmentalists, the flowering of unusually large amounts of green algae is linked to nitrates in fertilizers, waste from intensive rearing of pigs, birds and dairy products in the region entering the river system and entering the sea, providing excellent fertilizer for the algae.
In addition, when algae disintegrate, pockets of poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas trap beneath the bark of thin algae and make them potentially fatal to humans if they step on them.
The toxic sediment, which can lead to loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest, has been pouring ashore for decades, but environmentalists say the problem has worsened this summer due to weather conditions
At least two people and dozens of animals have died from inhaling toxic fumes in the area, though some warn that these are not all deaths.
“There has been a wall of silence for several decades,” Inès Léraud, an author said. “Around 20 people die on the coast each year, often swept away with tides or currents, but the question is: could some of those people have fainted from toxic gas from seaweed before being swept out? The state has not shed full light on all these issues.”
Thierry Burlot, deputy environment manager for the Brittany region, who also manages the only sewage treatment centre collected at the beaches, said the situation has become less dramatic as a result of state initiatives that have reduced significantly nitrates in the water system in recent years.
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