French prosecutors probe foul air claims in Paris metro

AFP - [email protected]
French prosecutors probe foul air claims in Paris metro
Commuters walk along a platform at the Gare de l'Est metro station in Paris (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Prosecutors in Paris have opened a criminal investigation into allegations that pollution in the capital's metro system is putting travellers' lives at risk, an NGO and authorities said on Wednesday.


Metro operator RATP is being investigated for possible trickery and causing involuntary injuries following claims that it deliberately under-reports pollution levels and fails to inform passengers about the dangers.

"It's time to lift the veil of silence and that the RATP tells the truth to users," the head of the Respire (Breathe) campaign group, Tony Renucci, said in a statement that announced the opening of a criminal probe, which was confirmed by the Paris prosecutor's office.


The charity, which lobbies for clean air, filed a legal complaint in 2021 after carrying out two separate monitoring investigations.

It accuses the RATP of being aware of the pollution problems for the last two decades.

In June last year, French public health watchdog Anses concluded that levels of toxic fine particulate matter were on average three times higher inside the metro than outside.

Of particular concern were particles generated from braking, while pollution was only monitored in three stations across the whole 309-stop network, Anses said.

The RATP said that air quality was a "priority" and it had an "ambitious action plan" to tackle pollution, which includes installing high-performance fans and electric braking systems which reduce pollution.

An estimated 40,000 premature deaths occur in France each year due to air pollution, according to public health figures.

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