Ile-de-France: thousands of deaths avoided thanks to better air quality

Improving air quality in Île-de-France has prevented thousands of deaths in 10 years, with the death rate from certain pollutants falling by up to 40%, according to a study published on Thursday, Feb. 10.

For example, for PM2.5 particulate matter (diameter less than 2.5 micrometers), “between 2010 and 2019, the annual number of deaths from long-term exposure decreased from 10,350 to 6,220, a decrease of 40%”, according to this “Quantitative Assessment of health impacts” carried out by the Regional Health Observatory (ORS) of Île-de-France, in collaboration with Airparif, a regional air quality observatory.

With long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), mainly produced by vehicles and thermal power plants or heating, the number of annual deaths falls “from 4,520 to 3,680, a decrease of almost 19%”.

To carry out these assessments – which do not take into account the year 2020 and the sharp declines in pollution associated with the incarcerations – the ORS relied on a calculation of the “attributable risk”, a statistical estimate covering all deaths. due to air pollution.

Thus, Insee population data was crossed with models based on Airparif data, with a resolution per square of 50 meters per side.

This highlights that the increase in mortality affects “all areas, including rural areas, but is more pronounced in the densely populated zone, which is both more polluted and more populated”. Income [est] particularly marked in Paris”, with “a gross gain in life expectancy” [de] almost 10 months.

France is being prosecuted by the European Union and was also condemned by the Council of State at the request of NGOs for exceeding the air pollution thresholds, especially NO2 in the Paris region, even though the overall quality has improved at the regional level.

According to the study, the “median value” of exposure (50% of the measurements below and 50% above) of the population of Île-de-France to PM2.5 has increased on average from 17.3 micrograms/m3 to 11, 7? g/m3 since 2010 (the EU has set a target of 25?g/m3) and from 32.2 to 26.1?g/m3 for NO2 (40?g/m3 maximum allowed by the EU).

The gain in terms of mortality could be even greater if the new reference values ​​adopted by the World Health Organization in September 2021 (5 g/m3 for PM2.5 and 10 µg/m3 for NO2) were affected, the authors add.

They estimate that 6,200 annual deaths related to PM2.5 could then be avoided in the region and “about 2,350 deaths” for NO2 (some causes of death are cumulative, the two numbers do not necessarily add up).

Nationally, air pollution is believed to be responsible for 40,000 premature deaths each year.


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