Solvay, responsible for widespread perfluorinated pollution, knew the toxicity of these “eternal chemicals” and continued to use them.

However, despite being cleaned up by Solvay, the plant’s neighbors continue to fall ill in inexplicable ways. Alice Lenas Spinetta is from Marengo. She saw many of her relatives affected. His father died of kidney cancer in 2015. His aunt was diagnosed with leukemia Acute myeloid. We meet her a few weeks after her uncle’s funeral, passed out by two brain tumors: “We were doing a cancer tour at the hospital. I’m going to see dad first, then I’m going to see my aunt and our family friend who has something in her stomach. Everyone in this family has cancer. It turned into cancer. We’re dancing on the wrong foot.”

It turned into cancer

By the end of 2019, A Epidemiological study Published by ARPA, the regional environmental protection agency, will confirm people’s feelings. she Solvay surveyed people living within a 3km radius of the plant. He cataloged all illnesses by collecting data on hospitalizations between 2001 and 2017. He then compared this population to the neighboring city of Alessandria, 3 km away. The results are refreshing. In Spinetta, residents face the risk of developing liver tumor (30%), kidney cancer (76%), high blood pressure (8%), respiratory diseases (47%), and this is not all.

Increase in cardiovascular diseases

What we have shown is an increase in neurological syndromes, especially in children living near the plant. There is also an increase in cardiovascular diseases. This is very, very important because endocrine disruptors, and PFAS in particular, one of their actions is to disrupt the body and increase cholesterol. All these increases I mention are statistically significant values“, comments Cristina Ivaldi, an epidemiologist at the Regional Environmental Protection Agency (ARPA).

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The study still does not prove a causal link between Solvay chemicals and disease. To establish a link, it is necessary to test the population through blood samples. However, an ARPA epidemiologist dropped the term: PFAS, popularly known as “Eternal chemicals“, can play a role.

They are part of Solvay’s specialized polymer manufacturing process. It is the golden egg-laying duck of the Belgian group. They represent the largest share of its revenue (2.173 billion euros in 2021). Thanks to the almost indestructible properties of PFAS, Solvay develops special polymers capable of making airplanes or cars lighter, for example.

Despite our requests for months, we never had the opportunity to visit the factory or interview the manager directly. Solway will only communicate with us in writing.

On May 17, the Department of Communications wanted to tell us that PFAS is being used very strictly: “[…] At Spinetta, we use state-of-the-art technologies that allow us to eliminate nearly 100% of fluorinated surfactant emissions. We use fluorinated surfactants in the production of certain polymers that require very specific properties in terms of their resistance. They are produced in a closed and strictly controlled cycle to avoid emissions to water and air. The message Solvay wants to convey is clear: the multinational continues to invest in sealing its facilities.

At Spinetta, Solvay used PFOA until 2013. PFOA is considered one of the most toxic PFASs. Dr. Corinne Charlier, head of the Department of Clinical Toxicology at the University Hospital of Liège, is well aware of its impact on health: “In As a result, we know for sure that there is an impact on thyroid function. We know that cholesterol increases. There is a decrease in the proper functioning of the liver. We have seen kidney cancer and testicular cancer. And during pregnancy, this is always the most difficult time for the fetus to be exposed to. The child has developmental problems. When the mother is exposed, we have a low birth weight baby. And we have a poor response to vaccination.

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