The Lingering Effects of World War I in Belgium and France

TLDR The Zone Rouge in France, also known as the red zone, is still too dangerous for human habitation due to extreme pollution, unexploded ordnance, and the presence of toxic substances from World War I. It will take several centuries for the area to be completely cleared, highlighting the long-lasting impact of the war.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The lingering effects of the First World War can still be felt in the literal ground where people live and work in Belgium and France, known as Zone Rouge, as discussed in this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.
01:57 The First World War was qualitatively different from previous wars, with new weapons and industrial manufacturing leading to an unprecedented number of artillery rounds fired, making it the most destructive war in history up to that point.
03:50 The First World War left the Western Front completely devastated, with the land churned up from artillery rounds and towns and villages pulverized into nothing, leaving the French government with the task of figuring out what to do with the land.
05:32 The Zone Rouge, or red zone, in France after World War I was deemed too dangerous for human habitation due to extreme pollution from explosives and chemical weapons, high levels of arsenic and other toxic substances in the soil, and the presence of unexploded ordnance.
07:26 The annual collection of unexploded artillery shells in northern France and southern Belgium, known as the iron harvest, has been a fact of life for farmers and residents in the region for the past century, with over 1,000 deaths reported from unexploded munitions since the end of the war.
09:19 In addition to unexploded shells, chemical rounds and human remains from World War I are also found in the Zone Rouge, posing additional dangers and challenges for cleanup efforts.
10:58 It will take between 300 and 700 years for France and Belgium to be completely free of unexploded ordnance from World War I, highlighting the long-lasting impact of modern wars and the potential for future casualties.
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