More three out of four French children breathe polluted air, according to a report on the consequences of air pollution on children in poverty, published this Thursday, October 14 by the Climate Action Network and Unicef France. According to this report, “This figure is explained by a greater exposure to air pollution in the cities, where most children live.”
The youngest are “particularly vulnerable” to these pollutants “because of the immaturity of their bodies and the frequency with which they breathe, which can lead to numerous pathologies”, asthma and allergies in particular, point out the Climate Action Network and Unicef in a press release. Poverty is a factor that can accentuate this phenomenon, especially because “the poor populations live more in the cities, where the level of pollution is higher”.
The Climate Action Network and Unicef note that, depending on the city, “poor children are not systematically more exposed to outdoor air pollution than children from more advantaged backgrounds.” Thus in Lille (North), exposure to nitrogen dioxide “increases with the level of socio-economic disadvantage”, most “the reverse is observed in Paris”.
The two organizations make five recommendations
The organizations point out, however, that “it is more difficult for poor populations to escape unfavorable living conditions for lack of sufficient resources”. They are therefore “more likely to accumulate several harmful exposures”, while studies show that “socio-economically disadvantaged areas have fewer green spaces, parks, or other resources likely to offset less favorable living conditions”, points out the report.
Faced with this phenomenon, the two organizations call for better taking into account “social disfavour” in public policies to combat air pollution. They formulate five recommendations in this sense, as “improve the consideration of children in the development of environmental health policies, socially support changes in mobility “ (in particular by increasing the bicycle fund by 500 million euros per year and by strengthening the conversion bonus for the poorest households), or even better protection of the health of the youngest “by strengthening the requirements applicable to establishments receiving children”.