ENVIRONMENT: “We call for respect for children’s rights, including living in a healthy environment,” says Unicef, which calls on the public authorities of France to act
Three out of four children breathe toxic air in France, according to an alarmed Unicef France, in a report released Thursday. This is the first time the UN agency has taken up this theme in France.
— UNICEF France (@UNICEF_france) April 4, 2019
It calls on the public authorities to act “as quickly as possible” against pollution and is campaigning, alongside NGOs, for the establishment in the city of restricted circulation zones that are sufficiently ambitious, while the parliament is examining the law on the orientation of mobility (LOM).
Respiratory diseases, diabetes, depressive syndromes
“When we say polluted air, we often think developing country, thick fog …, says Jodie Soret, in charge of relations between UNICEF and the public authorities and coordinator of this campaign. But in France, 3 out of 4 children breathe polluted air, says the WHO. We are more and more aware of the implications, there are respiratory diseases but we also make the link with diabetes, depressive syndromes .. ”
The progress made to reduce NO2 and fine particle emissions, which come first in the city from transport, is still insufficient, the report notes, in partnership with WWF, the Climate Action Network and the Respire association. “We call for respect for children’s rights, including living in a healthy environment,” adds Jodie Soret.
Vous voulez savoir quels sont les niveaux de #pollution de l’air de l’école de vos enfants ? @respireasso, publie la première carte interactive de la pollution de l’air dans les écoles d’Île-de-France. @datactivist @iledefrance @Paris #AirEcolehttps://t.co/JzXdUU0Xkw pic.twitter.com/N3hw8kkQQI
— Respire Association (@respireasso) March 28, 2019
Soft mobility and pedestrianisation
Unicef advocates the generalisation of “ambitious” low-emission zones (“restricted”), taking into account sensitive areas (hospitals, schools, etc.) and “not just hyper-centers”.
Today in Paris and its crown, 27% of establishments receiving sensitive public are exposed to the exceeding of the regulatory thresholds of NO2, as well as 31% of sports facilities, notes the report, citing Airparif.
The agency also recommends to encourage better soft mobility (reserved lanes, package for employees, learning to bike before the 6th …), to charge public transport according to income, and to regulate traffic around schools ( pedestrianization or semi-pedestrianisation).
More vulnerable children
Children, whose bodies are immature, are vulnerable: their respiratory rate is 1.5 times higher than that of an adult, their outdoor activities are more frequent, and they are less able to act to protect themselves.
“Air pollution causes asthma and promotes outbreaks of eczema, and it aggravates the respiratory diseases of those who have,” said Jocelyne Just, head of the pediatric allergy service at Trousseau Hospital in Paris, whose Unicef sought the expertise.