The fight is emblematic. And figure prominently in the report published Thursday, October 14 by Unicef and the Climate Action Network (1). On World Air Quality Day, the two organizations are joining forces to denounce the impact of air pollution on children, especially the poorest. They relay, among others, the inextricable situation of a school complex of about 600 students, in the Pleyel district of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis). This working-class district is subject to the nuisance of intense road traffic, particularly crossed by the A86. It is however there that, by 2023, a motorway interchange should emerge, within the framework of the work of the Olympic Games of 2024. With new ramps which will come to enclose the nursery school and the elementary school, but also a nursery located nearby. “There are two issues for the Organizing Committee, detailed in the fall of 2020 Nicolas Ferrand, General Manager of Solideo, the company responsible for Olympic structures. An issue of efficiency, the athlete must arrive on time (…), and a security issue for delegations at high risk. “
Arguments that weigh little in the eyes of Hamid Ouidir, father of two children aged 8 and 10 attending school in Pleyel. This elected FCPE de Seine-Saint-Denis has been fighting for years against a project that will “Transit between 10,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day” near schools, according to him. But so far, nothing has helped: neither the letters, nor the demonstrations, nor even the legal appeals. In October 2020, the Paris administrative court of appeal gave the green light. “There is only contempt and indifference, laments Hamid Ouidir. The health of our children is no match for the OJ dossier. “
“This case is revealing, especially when one reads the conclusions of the administrative justice, underlines for her part Jodie Soret, at Unicef. In her conclusions, she considers that children’s exposure to pollutants comes after the economic benefits of this interchange.. “ Co-author of the report, the latter however knows the deleterious consequences of nitrogen dioxide and fine particles on the health of the youngest. In France, “Three out of four children breathe polluted air, she continues. But there is a double penalty for those from precarious families: they do not go on weekends, often have less nature around them and their parents cannot afford to move.“. However, for adult life, the long-term effects are far from trivial. “Exposed while growing, children then run an increased risk of respiratory diseases, such as asthma, but also of diabetes, obesity, depression, because these substances are endocrine disruptors”, Jodie Soret alert.
The report makes several recommendations: among other things, that social issues be better taken into account in pollution control policies; and that new schools be built ” from a distance “ sources of pollutants.