INQUIRY The city of Paris is unable to provide proof of checks on the ventilation systems, some of which have accumulated kilos of dust and dirt
The Armand Massard swimming pool in Montparnasse (illustration). — V. WARTNER
- Agents employed in the swimming pools of the Paris City Hall fell ill from breathing polluted air.
- In question, the management of the Paris City Hall, which did not clean certain vents ventilation for years, and is unable to provide the slightest proof of controls of these installations between 1987 and 2021, while it has the obligation to keep a register.
- The results of the checks carried out in 2021 were considered worrying by the CGT, the expert reports showing hundreds of anomalies.
“I had symptoms – headaches, nausea – and I had them. my work. And when I left my job I had these symptoms for a few more hours. leaving the basin, then for several more days… ” Claire* is a former employee of the municipal swimming pools of the City of Paris. Like other agents, who have great difficulty agreeing to talk, she fell ill after several years in prison. work in a chlorinated and polluted atmosphere.
The worries started. in 2016, just before the diagnosis came in: asthma. “I’ve been sick leave then after incapacity; to exercise,” remembers Claire, who still has a lot on her heart. “I loved my job, it was not an easy choice for me. do.”
“A bottle of oxygen in the back”
Claire isn’t the only one suffer from these symptoms, which affect varying degrees of many city officials working in municipal swimming pools. Secretary of the CGT for the City, and himself lifeguard, Voussad Challal said to have crossed two of his former lifeguards, walking around “with an oxygen tank on their backs”.
“In my swimming pool, a colleague died. lungs eight years ago, and another left in occupational disease at cause of respiratory problems, linked to chlorine. I have another fallen colleague to 60% capacity breathing,” he tells us, beginning to list the lifeguards concerned once a year. He estimates that they are in their forties. to have been removed from the pools or have left for health difficulties; related to pollution of premises.
The City of Paris says it has been informed of the filing of files for recognition of occupational disease “for eight agents” on sick leave due to an occupational disease. “Four performed a professional retraining, two are still active; around the basin and an officer is assigned outside a swimming pool,” details the town hall, which specifies that it’t’not be systematically notified of the recognition of incapacity; from the agent.
Air vents not cleaned
Like Voussad Challal, Claire is angry, and questions the management of her employer, the Paris City Hall. “The facility I was in, there were a lot of problems with ventilation. There were air vents that were not cleaned, and in the last few years, the ventilation ducts behind the air vents were no longer found, except for the air vents. due to multiple works. We, in the midst of all this, we didn’t necessarily have all the information. Chloramines and other chemical products, we breathed them in constantly and the service of the Paris City Hall did not intervene quickly enough. We have not been quite heard at that level,” she said, a sense of revolt in her voice.
“It’s not just Paris, France in general, we’t give enough consideration to toxicity. of these products. I don't understand why it doesn't move more,” she adds.
Photo taken on March 14, 2022 of a ventilation duct at the the Jean-Taris swimming pool (5th arrondissement), which has since been cleaned; following a mobilization of the agents who exercised their right of withdrawal. – Voussad Challal
In fact, the management of the City of Paris on this subject is not entirely correct. done in the nails, according to documents that 20 Minuteswas able to consult. While the city has the obligation, according to a decree of October 8, 1987, to control the ventilation and sanitation installations of the work premises, it would seem that no control was carried out. realized before the year 2021, date at which the CGT demanded to the municipality communication of regulatory files.
An email from the sports department of December 2021 that we obtained, thus affirms that a “market” transverse control of ventilation systems […] has been set up and made it possible to carry out the first checks during the first half of 2021.” Pre-2021 checks “have been completed. carried out under management,” answers us the City of Paris. But the city is unable to provide the slightest proof, despite multiple reminders of 20 Minutes for more than a month, and while the town hall has the obligation to record the dates and results of these physical checks in a maintenance file ;periodic.
Nearly a thousand anomalies
Above all, the results of the checks carried out in 2021 were positive. considered worrying by the CGT. “Quality management water and air supply is contrary to regulations on many points, ” says a report from the union, which reviewed 33 expert reports, only 20 Minuteswas able to consult. “Of the 1,764 checkpoints carried out in these documents, 954 present a severe anomaly,” sums up the CGT, which denounces systems water filtration systems “outdated”, ventilation systems out of control, or ventilations “in a state of disrepair” ;”.
While the regulations require a fresh air rate of at least 60% (it’s the air that is taken from the outside and injected inside, the rest is being recycled air and therefore already heated), several swimming pools had rates much lower at the time of the checks, i.e. 9% at the time of the checks. Dauvin (18th), 31 % Cour des Lions (11th) and 42 % Rouvet (19th). “Below this threshold there is a risk of poisoning. The body no longer receives enough oxygen, this can lead to headaches, vomiting. People don’t realize it, they think they have a headache because they’ve had a bad day,” explains Voussad Challal.
Enhanced Action Plan
Facing these results, the City of Paris began to take measures. Thirty million euros over 5 years have been voted in 2021 to bring all City of Paris facilities up to standard (schools, nurseries, sports establishments, etc.) “i.e. double the previous term ;dente”, specifies the town hall. “All of the City’s 30 swimming pools have been the subject of an enhanced action plan; with a view to bringing them into conformity; integral with regard to existing regulations,” continues the town hall, which specifies that “for 13 of them, the compliance has been carried out, “for the 14 compliance. is in progress or planned” and “three sites are the subject of further studies”.
“There is a beginning of consideration, acknowledges Voussad Challal, but at at the moment the oldest swimming pools are in ruins. The Grange-aux-Belles [10th] swimming pool is rotten, the ceilings are collapsing.” For the trade unionist, the problem is more general: “We let the public service die, we under-fund it, to say that then it doesn’t work and we drop it . For example in the department responsible for the ventilation, the workforce was reduced. divided by ten in twenty years. Yet a well-done public service çworks.”