Pollution in French citieskills 5,000 per year

6th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 6 (AFP) - Urban air pollution, most of it caused by cars, trucks and buses, kills more than 5,000 people in France per year, according to a study unveiled on Thursday by a government health watchdog.

PARIS, May 6 (AFP) - Urban air pollution, most of it caused by cars, trucks and buses, kills more than 5,000 people in France per year, according to a study unveiled on Thursday by a government health watchdog.

The 236-page report by the French Agency for Environmental Health Safety (AFSSE) is based on estimates of mortality caused by urban pollution, especially fine particles discharged by vehicle exhausts.

It attributed the cost of each premature death at EUR 900,000 (USD 1.1 million).

"The negative consequences caused by road traffic are higher than the income from fuel taxes and tolls," it said.

France's new minister for ecology, Serge Lepeltier, denied a report in the weekly Le Point news magazine that he had tried to block publication of the report to save the French car industry from bad publicity.

He said the report's publication had been delayed because his ministry had sought "additional figures."

"We didn't want to hide anything," he said.

Lepeltier added that a category of fine particulates, known as PM10, "had not been taken sufficiently into account" in crafting the response to France's air pollution problems.

The AFSSE report is based on nationwide mortality in 2002.

It estimated that between six and 11 percent of fatal lung cancers among people aged over 30 was attributable to fine particulates that lodged in the lung and provoked tumours, a total of between 670 and 1,117 deaths.

In addition, more than 4,800 deaths from cardio-respiratory problems could be directly attributed to urban pollution, it said.

An October 2002 study of 26 European cities, funded by the European Commission and the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that, despite progress in curbing pollution of exhaust gases, particulates posed "a significant threat" to public health.

By reducing the levels of those particles to 40 microgrammes per cubic metre - the bar the Commission has set for all EU members to meet by 2005 - 2,653 premature deaths could be avoided, it said.

"If the more ambitious limit value of 20 microgrammes per cubic meter set for 2010 is achieved in the same cities, 11,855 premature deaths (or 43 premature deaths per 100,000 inhabitants) could be prevented [there] annually," it said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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