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2What issues?2 Damage to the environment and health is an increasing concern for our fellow citizens. Not only do they worry about the pollution or nuisances they are faced with, they also want to know what the potential consequences are for their health and, above all, what measures are taken to control them.

In addition, people are increasingly concerned by the prolonged exposure to low levels of chemicals whose effects are insufficiently or poorly documented, and with cancers of environmental origin (see the Appel de Paris launched by several cancer specialists in May 2004).

Even though progress has been made in the last few years with regard to the reduction in certain air emissions, notably via the PNSE, the battle is still raging with the most toxic “traditional” pollutants (heavy metals, benzene etc.) for which the reduction effort must be increased. 2Evaluation of the effects on health2 Any new project is subject to an evaluation of the effects on health in relation to the issues at stake within the framework of the impact assessment. 2What policy for operating classified installations?2 The risk control approach is a dual process:

  • firstly, a comprehensive and detailed inventory of the emissions (primarily to demonstrate that, according to current knowledge, anticipated emissions associated with the operation of the installation will not generate any unacceptable risk to local residents), and the implementation of effective reduction requirements for known toxic pollutants, based on the best available technology. Our fellow citizens expect this action to be a priority,
  • secondly, the continuation, when relevant, of detailed studies to identify low-level exposure issues, the specific characteristics associated with the population’s local health condition etc. and to determine additional initiatives by order of priority.

Last but not least, the efficiency evaluation of the measures implemented, via the self-monitoring and control approach (on-site inspections, analysis of malfunctions etc.).

In terms of regular assessment, during the operation of the installation, the operational assessment stipulated by the “IPPC” directive is often an ideal introduction to this subject.

Finally, while the use of models to evaluate the population’s prospective exposure may shed light on all the issues inherent in a new project, in the absence of reference regulatory values, it appears insufficient, if not unsuitable in the case of already operational installations of which the effects on the environment and populations can be observed; the implementation of environmental measurement campaigns should therefore be standardised and support the start-up of all new projects.

Similarly, retroactive health evaluations on operational or shut-down installations are not beneficial in any way to the prevention approach relative to a specific installation, given the uncertainties associated with the implementation of this approach and the necessary data reconstruction. 2Regulatory references2 Order of 2 February 1998 relative to the water withdrawal and consumption as well as all types of emissions of permit holding classified installations for environmental protection
Environmental code, regulatory section