Air pollution costs France 'over €100bn' a year

Air pollution is costing France over €100bn a year, a study by the country's upper house of parliament has found.

The study, conducted by the environment commission in the Senate, led by senator Jean-François Husson, has estimated that France loses €101.3bn annually due to the added costs on healthcare and agriculture as a result of air pollution, French national daily Le Parisien reports.

The figure also purports to include the capital lost from the 650,000 days off taken by French workers as a result of respiratory problems or air-related diseases.

The four-month report which began in March incorporates data from around 70 experts, including scientists, economists, CEOs and four government ministers. The group behind the report have called for the French government to "take bold action" against air pollution.

According to the study the vast majority of the €101.3bn goes toward health care as between €68bn and €97bn is spent annually treating people with diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or other conditions caused or worsened by poor air quality.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has previously estimated that the cost to France as a result of air pollution is around half of the current estimate - €48bn. However the WHO estimate specifically focused on the economic cost of deaths as a result of air pollution, not on non-lethal diseases which require continuous treatment.

Other costs incorporated in the Senate report include damage done to crop yields, as well as urban clean up programmes which are set up to combat the effect that pollution has on buildings. Altogether this was estimated at a €4.3bn annual loss. The report cites the example of the recently restored facade of the Pantheon in Paris which they estimate to have cost €900,000, more than 10 times the initially estimated cost.

The astronomical estimate averages at almost one third of Greece's national debt and as much as €1,600 of additional spending per capita, Le Parisien estimates.

Air pollution is a serious problem in France and particularly in Paris which last year topped the list of major European capitals on the amount of particles in its air according to the European capital with European Environment Agency (EEA).

The French capital had 147 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic metre of air, compared with Brussels, which had 114, Amsterdam with 104, 81 in Berlin and 79.7 in London.