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Pollution Blamed for French Heatwave Deaths

Posted on Jan. 28, 2004, 12:09 p.m. in Environment

Experts believe that air pollution could be responsible for the death of thousands of French people who died during the recent heatwave. The French government say that 11,400 more deaths than usual occurred in the first two weeks of August 2003. Seniors were the worst affected by the heat, with many succumbing to hyperthermia and dehydration as temperatures soared to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). However, a recent study suggests that air pollution may have been responsible for many of the deaths, as the unusually hot weather and a lack of wind led to record-breaking pollution levels and left a cloud of smog blanketing the French capital Paris. Jean-Felix Bernard, president of France's Conseil National de l'Air, an air quality agency attached to the Environment Ministry, estimates that this pollution may have been responsible for the death of “between 1,000 and 3,000” people. Bernard said that he based his estimate on a 2002 study, which showed that people exposed to air pollution for several days had a significantly higher than normal risk of death.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.reutershealth.com on the 2nd September 2003.

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