The Bilan de la qualité de l'air extérieur en France in 2019 meets the French government's obligation to publish an annual report on air quality in France, its possible evolution and its effects on health and the environment.

During the period 2000-2019, the number of pollutant emissions has decreased

The report confirms that significant progress has been made in reducing emissions of air pollutants as a result of both national and local actions.

Indeed, over the period 2000-2019, primary anthropogenic emissions decreased for the majority of the pollutants studied in this report. These improvements follow the implementation of strategies and action plans to reduce emissions in different sectors of activity. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, which come mainly from industry, have thus been divided by 5 between 2000 and 2019. The development of renewable energies, energy-saving measures, regulation of emissions from industrial plants, improvement of their energy efficiency and regulation of the sulphur content in fuels have notably reduced the release of this pollutant into the air.

The number of agglomerations with exceedances of regulatory thresholds for long-term health protection is decreasing for no2 and pm10

The number of agglomerations not meeting the regulatory thresholds for NO2 has decreased. It is 9 in 2019 compared to 24 in 2000, with a peak at 37 in 2003. However, large agglomerations (over 250,000 inhabitants), and to a lesser extent medium-sized agglomerations (50,000 to 250,000 inhabitants), are the most concerned by these exceedances, most often at stations located close to road traffic .

For PM10, medium and large agglomerations are also the most affected by non-compliance with regulatory thresholds. The measuring stations involved are mostly located close to road traffic and in urban backgrounds. Over the period 2007-2019, the number of agglomerations concerned has decreased thanks to the drop in emissions: whereas 33 agglomerations had exceedances in 2007, only 2 (Paris and Cayenne) are in this situation in 2019. While average O3 concentrations did not decrease, the number of agglomerations with exceedances of the regulatory threshold for the protection of long-term health decreased over the period 2000-2019, with a further increase in the number of agglomerations with exceedances at the end of the period.

2019 is marked by several national-scale ozone pollution episodes

Ozone levels recorded in 2019 are particularly high and partly due to meteorological conditions that have favoured the formation of this pollutant. Thus, the year 2019 is marked by two pollution episodes on a national scale (end of June and end of July) with concentrations above the information and recommendation threshold (180 μg/m3 on average over one hour). During the summer, 252 exceedances of this threshold are recorded over a total of 26 days and affect most metropolitan areas, with the South and East remaining the most affected regions.

The first and most intense episode occurred between June 25 and 30. The main regions affected by this event are Île-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Grand Est, Normandie, Centre-Val de Loire, Pays de la Loire and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (maps 6 and 7). Areas in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes are experiencing several days of exceedance of the information and recommendation threshold during this episode.

A second nationwide episode occurs at the end of July 2019 due to hot weather conditions. For these two heavily polluted periods in the summer of 2019, the evolution of weather conditions with the arrival of disturbances from the West leads to the end of the episodes.

5 pollutants, out of the 12 subject to regulation, show exceedances of regulatory air quality thresholds for long-term health protection in 2019. For 3 of them (PM10, Ni, B[a]P), these are localised exceedances that concern only a few agglomerations. For NO2 and O3, the exceedances are more numerous and concern 9 and 49 agglomerations respectively.

Find out more, here's the full 2019 report on outdoor air quality in France

Find the official website of the Ministry of Ecological Transition

Do not hesitate to consult the balance sheets of the previous years in the Library of NanoSense

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