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Air pollution: What if we avoided the airpocalypse?

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Parisians rightly put air pollution at the top of their environmental agenda. Indeed, while it is improving in the Île-de-France region and in Paris, air quality remains unsatisfactory throughout the country and too many citizens are still exposed to pollution levels that exceed WHO regulations or recommendations. Air quality issues extend far beyond the Paris Region, with almost all of the world's metropolises facing this challenge. A few days before the deadline (31 March) set by the Council of State for the government and certain local authorities to draw up new plans to combat air pollution, voices are being raised among associations and NGOs to remind them of the urgent need to act to reduce road traffic and the consumption of fossil fuels. Will the year 2018 finally see France make the shift from ecological transition in transport to health and climate protection? With what solutions?
 
Aa France is a repeat offender in terms of air pollution: since 2009, the European Commission has regularly sent it warnings, to no avail. As a result, France ranks 6th within the European Union in terms of exceeding legal air pollution levels.
In July 2017, the Conseil d'État enjoined the French Government to take, together with the local authorities concerned, all necessary measures to reduce particulate matter and NOx concentrations to below legal levels by 31 March 2018 (within new roadmaps for air quality in 14 zones in France). At the beginning of 2018, the European Commission convened France in Brussels to hear about its actions against air pollution. The body is due to take a decision shortly on possible action by France before the European Court of Justice as a result of its failure to comply with EU directives on air pollution.
The French government communicated its action plan on February 13, 2018, which includes the main lines of the National Plan to Reduce Emissions of Air Pollutants (Prépa) published in May 2017 by the previous government. For the Climate Action Network, there is a lack of ambition in the measures envisaged, particularly in the transport sector, which is worrying. To date, the government's action plan, communicated in Brussels, remains very insufficient, as it does not agree with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, to drop the lawsuit. In addition, local authorities have put forward proposals without any guarantee that they are up to the challenge.
 
World Air Pollution Map - October 2017
 
The Climate Action Network and its member associations thus publish their own proposal for a roadmap for air quality: presentation of concrete and indispensable measures that must be urgently implemented at the national level, in the framework of the future orientation law on mobility, as well as at the local level. This roadmap would make it possible to put transport and mobility policies at the service of everyone's health and the fight against climate change.
 
Among the measures proposed, new road projects must be abandoned, and sufficient funding for greener transport solutions such as cycling and public transport must be developed. Diesel and petrol vehicles are banned from circulation in "very low-emission zones" in all polluted agglomerations by 2025 to protect the population. The application of the polluter-pays principle, by means of ecological taxation in freight transport, would make it possible to release the resources needed to finance alternatives and accompanying measures for the most modest sectors and households.
 

Air quality: an opportunity for innovation?

Beyond the public health issue, improving air quality could be a great opportunity for industrial sectors, among which Ile-de-France, or even French, expertise has significant potential that needs to be mobilised and supported.
The innovative responses that could thus be pushed by French entrepreneurs have a significant potential for replicability around the world.
 
There is indeed the Air Quality Experimentation Program Paris&Co is the innovation and economic development agency of Paris. Through theUrban Lab, the urban experimentation laboratory, Paris&Co has been experimenting in the Paris metropolis for about ten years: tests in real conditions, in the urban environment, of an innovative device already designed but not yet marketed. This represents a key phase in the innovation process because it allows us to measure the appropriation of the system by users and its operation. in situ, allowing entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of their solution and reduce the risks taken.
 
In consultation with the City of Paris, the Urban Lab has been launching thematic experimentation programmes for the past seven years to test innovative solutions that can respond to major urban issues of general interest: energy efficiency of buildings, urban metabolism, sustainable urban logistics, adaptation to climate change, safety and security. For 2018, the theme of Air Quality has been chosen, around the subjects of measurement, depollution, reduction at source, behavioural change and public information. The programme is being launched in partnership with AirParif. (1), an accredited air quality monitoring association, which provides the programme with scientific expertise. We all know his balloon over Paris which maps air pollution 15 kilometres away. The device makes it possible to locate and measure sources of pollution in Paris.
 
More than 45 applications were received following the call for experiments, of which 10 projects were finally selected as the most innovative and relevant to be tested in a programme of experiments. These winners represent a variety of project leaders: from start-ups to large groups, SMEs and even research institutions. These 10 winners will benefit from free support from the Urban Lab, with the support of Airparif and the City of Paris, in the deployment of their experimentation. This support is based on research assistance and putting the winners in contact with relevant sites for the experiments (public space, city services or companies), monitoring the successful deployment of the experiments and evaluating each of them. The objective is to deploy the experiments from summer 2018.
 
"These 10 promising projects will be tested over a period ranging from six months to a year, which will allow a detailed analysis of various factors influencing their relevance: technical capacities, appropriation by users, possible obstacles, causes of success, necessary deployment efforts...". says Albane Godard, director of the Urban Lab.
 
"Airparif will accompany these experiments in order to evaluate their effectiveness in improving air quality and their reproducibility in other territories. The 10 prize-winners propose interesting projects: they respond to issues concerning both outdoor and indoor air and therefore aim to ultimately reduce the population's exposure to pollution! » adds Frédéric Bouvier, CEO of Airparif.

 
Ten projects for "Healthy Air in a Green City".
 
MVAW (startup) Air pollution control solution by vegetated biofiltration (through the action of substrate, plants and microorganisms), to be tested under real conditions and in outdoor air, in public spaces.www.mvaw-technologies.com
Microsensor network by Clarity & Citeos (startup + large group): Air quality monitoring system, based on low-cost sensors installed on public lighting masts managed by Citeos, a calibration system for these sensors, and a cloud portal. www.clarity.io
"AntiSmog by Net SAS (startup) : Solution to reduce pollutant emissions at the source of vehicles, through the improvement of hydrogen fuel. www.antismog.co
Multi-physical measuring stations by SimEnginerring (PME) Evaluation in real conditions of multi-physical measurement stations: air/noise/circulation station and noise/dust station, especially for construction sites. www.engineering.com
Willbee, IoT at the service of air quality by IFPEN (EPIC) : Raising drivers' awareness of their ability to reduce their polluting footprint through a connected sticker and the GecoAir application (calculation of polluting emissions by type of vehicle), creating a link between the impact of driving and air quality. www.ifpen.fr
"Air4Kids " by VentilairSec (PME) Improving air quality in Child Care Facilities, through an innovative ventilation system that filters incoming outdoor pollutants, ventilates the premises to control air renewal and expels stale air. www.ventilairsec.com
"Moanho" by Blue Industry and Science (PME) : Solution for measuring concentrations of anaesthetics in the ambient air of operating theatres, using a widely tunable spectrometer (equivalent to 400 lasers). www.blueindustryandscience.com
"UMPAI" by AirLiquide (Large group) AirLiquide : A solution for improving indoor air quality, via a filtration technology by adsorption of VOCs and formaldehyde, derived from AirLiquide's proven industrial principle of air purification. www.airliquide.com
"Smart QAI by NanoSense (SME) : Testing of automatic control algorithms and regulation of the triptych ventilation, heating, air conditioning according to productivity objectives based on indoor air quality. www.nano-sense.com
"IAQ Monitoring" by Zaack (startup) : Study of the impact of accurate and continuous monitoring of indoor air pollution in nurseries. www.zaack.io
 

Alarming figures

The numbers help to measure the magnitude of the problem. The impact of air pollution on our health is a proven fact: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes more than 3 million deaths, or 5% of the world's annual deaths. Numerous studies now show a causal link between the environment and health, including the genesis, aggravation or exacerbation of cardio-respiratory diseases. Public Health Agency studypublished in June 2016, estimates that the number of deaths due to fine particles is at least 48,000 per year, or 9% of the national mortality. According to the same study, in Paris, 2,500 people die each year from air pollution.
Contrary to what one might think, air pollution does not only affect big cities, the study says. "Medium and small towns and rural areas are also affected," it says. Admittedly, in urban areas with more than 100,000 inhabitants, the results show, on average, a loss of 15 months of life expectancy at 30 years due to PM2.5, the fine particles spat out by diesel vehicles in particular. But in less populated areas - between 2,000 and 100,000 inhabitants - the loss of life expectancy is also very high: 10 months on average. Finally, in rural areas, contrary to what might be imagined, it is estimated that an average of nine months of life expectancy is lost.

 
 

(1 )Aiparif Observatoire, an independent air quality observatory at the service of health and action, is the association responsible for monitoring and providing information on air quality in the Ile-de-France region, approved by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity. Its mission is to implement air quality monitoring and to provide reliable and regular information to the authorities and the public, in order to enable the sustainable improvement of the health of Ile-de-France residents and the environment. Airparif has nearly 150 members who are represented in 4 colleges: the State, local authorities, economic players and associations - qualified individuals. Airparif's strategy is based on three main lines of action: Monitor / Understand / Accompany.
 
To go further :
 
- Book" The Battle of the Air - Economic Issues of Air Quality "by Thomas Kerting, (ESCP graduate, founder of Aircology and Chairman of Air Sur), Frédéric Gonand (Professor of Economics at Paris-Dauphine) and Mathilde Lorenzi (Les Respirations) - Edition Descartes&Cie.
 
Header photo: "Project bike". Smog Free Bicycle "© Studio Roosegaarde
 

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