The level of air pollution is falling in Paris, but it’s still too high, research shows

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Air quality improved in the Paris region in 2021, but its 12 million inhabitants are still subject to pollution levels above World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, with thousands of premature deaths, Airparif said Tuesday.

Air pollution is the cause of "serious chronic pathologies, in particular cardiovascular and respiratory pathologies and cancers", Airparif, the observatory of air quality in Paris region, reminds us in its 2021 report.

While air quality improved in Ile-de-France last year, "in line with the trends observed in recent years", "60,000 residents of the region are still exposed to concentrations exceeding the French and European regulatory limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), along major traffic routes" such as the ring road and the A1 motorway, according to a statement.

"For PM10 particles, the limit value is still being exceeded for less than a thousand inhabitants," the statement said.

Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) are down compared to 2019 and previous years, Airparif said. This downward trend is notably linked to the decline in emissions caused by residential heating and road traffic.

Compared to 2020, on the other hand, a particular year marked by Covid-19, "NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 levels have increased slightly".

In 2021, there were 11 pollution episodes, including 10 "for PM10 and one for ozone [...], the lowest number of exceedance days for ten years".

7,900 premature deaths each year

The recommendations of the WHO, which are stricter than EU regulations and will be tightened in 2021 to take into account the most recent knowledge on the health impact of air pollution, are "still largely exceeded for all 12 million inhabitants of Ile-de-France", warns Airparif.

This is the case "throughout the region for fine particles PM2.5 and for ozone, for 95% of inhabitants for nitrogen dioxide and for 80% of inhabitants for particles PM10".

Respecting these recommendations would make it possible to avoid 7,900 premature deaths each year, according to Airparif, based on a study that it published at the beginning of 2022 with the Île-de-France Regional Health Observatory (ORS).

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