While France battles extreme temperatures this week, Paris authorities have advised residents to stay calm and continue drinking tap water, denying that the capital’s water presents “any risk for the public health” after rumours in social media networks claimed the city’s drinking water had been contaminated with harmful levels of the radioactive isotope tritium, reports The Guardian.
On Saturday, the prefecture of the Paris region maintained that Paris’s tap water was safe to drink and insisted social media rumours were “fake news”.
"Denial about the presence of tritium in drinking water. The values observed to date do not show any risk to public health. Tap water can be drunk without restriction", the Paris prefecture wrote on Twitter.
Last Wednesday, a small French environmental charity called the Association for the Control of Radioactivity in the West (ACRO) published a report claiming 6.4 million people in the Paris region as well as the Loire and Vienne areas were supplied with water contaminated with tritium.
The study was based on data from the Health ministry with a map displaying the average tritium levels in tap water across France. Although the levels are higher in the mentioned regions, “no value exceeds the quality criterion (100Bq/L) introduced by the authorities,” said the report.
The World Health Organization sets 10,000 Becquerels per litre as a maximum level.
According to AFP, rumours started to spread on social media after a Whatsapp message from a Paris nurse to her friends went viral advising them not to drink tap water because of titanium presence in the city's water.
Eau De Paris, the publicly owned company responsible for the public water supply for the city of Paris wrote on Twitter: "Drinking Paris water does not present a health risk, tritium is present in infinitely small doses in water, without any risk in the short, medium and long term.”
“The quantities measured in Paris water are much lower than these levels,” it added.
The quality reference for tritium levels in France is set at 100 Bq/L, which is much lower than the reference of 10,000 Bq/L recommended by the World Health Organisation, Eau de Paris also said in a statement.