Air Pollution Responsible for 48,000 Deaths per year in France

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Air pollution in France is responsible for 48,000 deaths a year

The air pollution from fine particles is responsible for 48,000 deaths each year in France, of which over 34,000 are preventable, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The pollution from human activities (transport, industry, heating with fossil fuels such as oil, agriculture …), is estimated to be responsible for 48,000 deaths per year, corresponding to 9 % of deaths in mainland France, according to the impact assessment of Public Health in France.

Lost two years of life expectancy

Thus “the burden of air pollution is ranked third, behind that of tobacco (78,000 deaths) and alcohol (49,000 deaths), ” said Professor François Bourdillon, CEO of this public body.  This pollution is “a loss of two years of life expectancy for a person aged 30 years” according to the study confirming its important role on mortality. The loss of life expectancy is, on average, higher in large cities (15 months and more), although rural areas do not escape either, even if it is lower (9 months).

Large urban areas

Geographically, pollution levels vary.  The map of fine particle concentrations for example shows that they are higher in large urban areas: Paris region, northeastern France and the Lyon-Marseille.  Improving the air quality in these areas, will permit significant profits, according to the scenarios considered in this work.

34,000 preventable deaths

Over 34 000 deaths could be prevented each year if all municipalities of mainland France managed to achieve fine particle levels of just 5%, according to one of these scenarios.

Invisible Mortality

“persons aged 30 years could earn an average of 9 months of life expectancy,” says Mathilde Pascal epidemiologist Public Health France.  This gain would exceed one year in the most polluted areas (19.6 million people).  Pollution is a “kind of invisible mortality”, says the Professor Bourdillon.  The mortality figures in this new study are the “same order and confirm” the previous results, no one can speak of increase indicates Sylvia Medina, coordinator of the Air Health program. The French study including the European study confirms Cafe (Clean Air for Europe) in 2000 estimated that more than 40,000 deaths related to pollution in France.

The peaks of pollution weigh less

Levels of pollution were estimated in 36219 towns and villages, collecting 61.6 million inhabitants, for the years 2007-2008 (excluding Corsica and overseas) and their impact on mortality calculated on this period in mainland France.  Moreover, pollution peaks weigh less on overall health than the long term chronic exposure. The resulting impact on health in the long term, especially exposure to daily pollution levels below the alert thresholds triggered from a concentration of 80 micrograms of PM10 (particles smaller than 10 microns) per cubic meter of air.

cardiovascular diseases

In the 17 cities of the monitoring program “air and health”, from 2007 to 2010, between 85% (Nancy) and 100% (Montpellier and Nice) causes of death (not accidental) and hospitalisation for cardiac causes attributable to short-term effects of PM10 are associated with daily levels of these particles lower than regulatory threshold warning defining pollution peaks. Exposure to air pollution, including fine particles, contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease (heart …), respiratory or neurological, and cancer.  It also promotes the “reproductive disorders and child development,” said Ms. Medina.

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