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National Health and Environment Action Plan (PNSE)

National health and environment action plan

The PNSE was published by the Government on 21 June 2004. It transcribes the strong commitment of the President of the Republic to these issues into the action of State services. It reflects the commitments made by France during international conferences organised by the World Health Organisation.

The PNSE consists of 45 actions to be implemented between 2004 and 2008.

Steering and implementation of the PNSE is the joint responsibility of the ministries of Ecology, Health, Research and Labour.

The Inspectorate of classified installations is particularly involved in actions aimed at reducing the impact of industrial activities. This involvement is characterised by priority given to impact prevention and reduction initiatives.

There are three major categories of initiatives:

  • prevention of legionella proliferation risks associated with air cooling towers;
  • listing, diagnosis and management of lead contaminated sites;
  • reduction in the amount of toxic substances emitted by classified installations (known as “substance strategy”). 2Prevention of legionella proliferation risks associated with air cooling towers2 In 2005, 1,527 cases of legionella disease were reported to the health monitoring institute, deadly in 11% of the cases. The main sources of known germs responsible for human contamination cases are wet air cooling towers, domestic hot water supplied by building distribution systems and the mineral water used for therapeutic purposes in thermal facilities.

A 50% reduction in the number of cases in 2008 is part of the PNSE’s objectives. 2Listing, diagnosis and management of lead contaminated sites2 The risk of children’s exposure to lead-contaminated soil by ingestion can be significant and rapid (lead poisoning), which is why the Inspectorate of classified installations started listing industrial sites in which significant soil contamination is suspected due to current or past activities.

In order to prevent these situations, the Inspectorate of classified installations launched an action in 2004 and 2005, aimed at:

  • Listing potentially affected sites (installations in operation or recently shut down) and identifying the state of the soil on these sites,
  • Asking the managers of the identified sites to carry out, if they haven’t already, soil diagnosis in the vicinity of the sites,
  • Proposing, when relevant, additional measures (reduction in exposure level, making the sites safer, blood-lead screening by health authorities etc.).

As part of this process, the Inspectorate of classified installations listed 387 installations, in operation or having recently ceased their activities, for which lead contamination of the soil is a possibility in light of current or past activities. 2Reduction in the amount of toxic substances emitted by classified installations 2 The objective of this action is to pursue or initiate the reduction in air emissions in a methodical and organised manner over the entire national territory. 6 pollutants, currently considered the most significant (lead, cadmium, dioxins, vinyl chloride monomer, mercury, benzene) were selected. This action concerns 436 facilities.
The implementation of this action is organised based on the following 3 elements:

  • improve the knowledge of emissions,
  • attain emission reduction objectives going forward to 2005 and 2010 compared with the reference year (2000 or 2001 depending on the case),
  • implement an environmental monitoring programme. With regard to emission reduction, overall objectives are set at national level for each substance concerned. These objectives are as follows:
Substances (reference year)% reduction 2005/reference year% reduction 2010/ reference year
BENZENE (2001) (t) ----------- - 25% to - 35%
LEAD (2000) (t) - 45% - 65%
CADMIUM (2000) (t) - 50%
2.4 – DIOXINS (EMISSIONS in g I-TEQ/year) (2000) - 60%— - 85%
VCM vinyl chloride (2000) (t) - 30% - 35% to - 40%

In order to attain these national objectives, reduction measures, negotiated and implemented on a case by case basis, should be defined taking into account already initiated actions.
Regarding mercury, the reduction objective will be defined following air emission measurement campaigns for each of the installations concerned, notably taking into account the nature and origin of the fuels or raw materials used at the time of the measurement.


Circular of 13 July 2004 relative to classified installations. Strategy aimed at controlling and reducing toxic air emissions likely to affect health.
Circular of 3 November 2004 relative to the national environment and health action plan (PNSE) defining the actions to be implemented locally to detect, prevent and limit environmental pollutions with an impact on health.
“National Action” circulars of 28 December 2004 and 9 November 2005.