FRANCE’S tourist beaches are being overrun with toxic slime which experts say can kill sunbathers and swimmers within seconds.
The green algae releases poisonous gases when trodden on causing those nearby to faint and suffer cardiac arrest, say reports.
A woman looks at bungalows cordoned off because of ‘killer’ algae in the Vallais beach, near Saint-Brieuc[/caption]
This summer, six Brittany beaches were closed because of a mass of dangerous algae[/caption]
At least three people and dozens of animals have already died, but some fear other deaths may have been mistakenly passed off as drownings.
In July, we reported how an 18-year-old died after inhaling toxic fumes from what environmentalists believe was hydrogen sulphide poisoning.
The toxic matter now covers the shoreline near Saint-Brieuc, in Brittany, as a result of surplus fertiliser from nearby fields leaking into the sea, it’s been claimed.
“It’s a shame this place has come to be associated with death,” said André Ollivro, an environmental activist who warned that large amounts of green algae can “kill you in seconds.”
How dangerous is hydrogen sulphide from rotting seaweed?
Hydrogen sulphide is released from seaweed and algae when it starts to decompose.
It has the characteristic foul odour of rotten eggs.
The poisonous colourless gas can attack the nervous and respiratory system.
In fatal cases, the gas paralyses breathing and induces death.
It has been linked to the deaths of animals such as boars, horses and dogs.
Environmental experts have linked high levels of nitrates in rivers and estuaries from intensive farming methods to the increase in the rotting algae.
In 2016 a jogger collapsed and died on a beach in Brittany covered in sea lettuce.
The sludge has washed up on the shores for decades, but environmentalists say the problem has worsened this summer due to the “exceptional” hot weather, according to France 24.
“The influx of green algae began very early, there were few storms and June was a relatively wet month, which caused more water to flow from agricultural areas and thus more green algae,” a spokesperson for the Saint-Brieuc town hall told reporters.
This summer, six Brittany beaches were closed because of a mass of dangerous algae – over fears it could claim more lives.
The authorities are now collecting the algae with bulldozers and transporting it to treatment centres.
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Residents have complained about the stench emanating from these facilities, with some claiming the smell is so powerful it wakes them up at night.
However, others are increasingly concerned the true death toll from the algae may be far higher than believed.
“Around 20 people die on the coast each year, often swept away with currents, but the question is: could some of those people have fainted from toxic gas from seaweed before being swept out?” Inès Léraud, who probed the problem, told the Guardian.
At least three people and dozens of animals have already died from inhaling fumes in the area[/caption]