ENVIRONMENT – An astronomical sum. Air pollution would cost France more than 100 billion euros per year, in healthcare costs, absenteeism in companies or falling agricultural yields, according to a Senate committee of inquiry . Air pollution “is not just a health aberration, it is an economic aberration,” said the Commission of Inquiry in its report “Air pollution: the cost of inaction”.
It represents a “major cost”, when health expenditure is taken into account to deal with the pathologies attributable to pollution (fine particles, nitrogen oxides, etc.), the impact of absenteeism on the productivity of the loss of biodiversity, and the maintenance of degraded buildings, the committee chaired by Jean-François Husson (LR), whose rapporteur is Leila Aïchi (Ecologist), said.
19 billion just for indoor air pollution
In detail, the total sanitary cost of air pollution would be between € 68 billion and € 97 billion a year, the report notes (data from the European Commission’s “Clean Air for Europe” program), while the non-sanitary cost is estimated at 4.3 billion euros. Indoor air pollution alone represents a cost of € 19 billion per year.
The impact on the French healthcare system is estimated at a minimum of 3 billion euros, notes the report which includes expenses to treat asthma due to pollution, certain cancers, or hospitalization costs . But the overall cost “is largely underestimated,” told AFP Leïla Aïchi for whom France “is late” and “lack of research on this issue”. The health effects of certain pollutants are thus poorly understood, in particular the ‘cocktail effect’ of the presence of several pollutants.
“Air is globally less polluted” but “pollution has changed nature”, less localized at industrial sites and more diffuse, via transport, heating, agriculture and indoor air “, notes the report . And the commission lists 61 measures calling for “true environmental taxation” and for “complementing existing standards” that are ill-defined or do not cover the full range of known pollutants.
Ségolène Royal to announce “extremely firm measures”
In transport, it advocates gradual alignment of gasoline and diesel taxation until 2020 and the introduction of a tax on nitrogen, nitrogen oxide and fine particles. The report also wants to accelerate support for clean transport (hybrid and electric vehicles, rail freight, aircraft rolling).
In agriculture, the commission recommends that the causes of excess mortality of farmers be studied specifically for certain types of cancers and better control the dispersion of pollutants. The Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royal, will announce “next week” of “extremely firm measures” to fight against air pollution, after the publication of this report.