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HEALTH

Paris authorities insist that it is OK to drink the city’s tap water

Paris city authorities have reassured residents and visitors that the city's tap water is perfectly safe to drink.

Paris authorities insist that it is OK to drink the city's tap water
Photo: AFP

The announcement comes after a rumour swept French social media claiming that the city's water was polluted with tritium and was unsafe to drink.

The local authorities for Ile de France, which covers the greater Paris region, said: “The levels observed in the tap water to date do not show any risk to public health. Tap water can therefore be consumed without restriction.”

 

The rumour, which was shared thousands of times on social media over the weekend, appears to have been started by an account claiming to belong to a nurse in a Parisian hospital and referring to the presence of “titanium” in water and the publication of a prefectoral decree.

Public health authority the  l’Assistance publique des hôpitaux de Paris stated: “We have obviously not received any order of any kind relating to water contamination.”

The authority added that both it and the ambulance service had received many calls over the weekend from worried members of the public.

Tritium is present in minute quantities in drinking water, but Paris water authority Eau de Paris says the amount present in the city's water is well below safe levels.

Eau de Paris pointed out that the maximum allowed level for tritium set in France is 100 Bq/l (Becquerel per litre), which is 100 times less than the level of 10,000 Bq/l recommended by the World Health Organisation.
 
According to measurements made between 2016 and 2019, “no excess level was observed”, and the authority added: “The average threshold recorded in Paris since 2016 varies between 0 and 1.22 Bq/L”.
 
It is not known who was behind the Twitter account that began the rumour, but Paris authorities say they reserve the right to take legal action against them.
 
 

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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