Pollution costs France more than 100 billion euros ($110 billion) a year, according to a study released Wednesday. The analysis by the country's Senate revealed that most of that figure is attributed to healthcare-related costs.
The Senate projected the cost of treatment and missed work, which total an estimated 650,000 days, were responsible for between 68 and 97 billion euros, according to The Local. The four-month study reflected consultations with more than 70 experts.
According to the World Health Organization, polluted air can lead to lung diseases, chronic bronchitis, asthma and breathing problems. Mortality rates also increase. More than 42,000 deaths in France each year are caused by fine particle air pollution. Another 4.3 billion euros of the money was from poor crop production, soil degradation and building cleaning.
“The real cost is largely underestimated,” said Green Party Senator Leïla Aïchi, who was interviewed as part of the cross-party commission of inquiry in the report.
Pollution has become a major concern in urban cities, such as Paris, where the city had to restrict car usage for a day in March when the smog became too intense, reported the BBC. Paris sees higher pollution levels than most European cities, with only Athens facing worse conditions.
Increased pesticide usage was reported to be a contributing factor, but the Senate's study mainly blames the pollution on diesel cars, which cause airway inflammation and increased respiratory problems. Authors of the study recommended that a higher tax be placed on diesel vehicles.
The report acknowledged that efforts in recent years to combat pollution have reduced the rates in industrial areas.
In response to the findings, the Socialist Environment Minister Ségolène Royal said that “extremely stern” measures to curb air pollution would be announced in the next week, according to France 24.