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Tackling Air Pollution Around Parisian Schools: The City of Paris, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Airparif Release Air Quality Findings, Commit to Expanding Partnership

Convening the educational community, parents, and NGOs, the City of Paris presented the results of a pilot project conducted with Bloomberg Philanthropies that measured air quality around schools

Today, the City of Paris and Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with Airparif, released the results of an ongoing collaboration aimed at improving the understanding of air quality by piloting the use of low-cost sensors to monitor air pollution. Launched in June 2019, the study observed 44 Paris schools, daycare centers and their neighboring streets from September 2019 to September 2020. The pilot project has provided important learnings on how lower-cost micro-sensors can complement the city’s existing air quality monitoring network, alongside other tools, like passive tubes.

The findings of the project, led in conjunction with existing monitoring systems, confirmed that air pollution levels are significantly lower in schoolyards than in nearby streets. Published by Airparif, this study quantified a lower concentration of various polluting agents on account of the distance of school buildings from the streets and the sheltering effect of walls surrounding schools. Results of the study showed a 36% average difference in nitrogen dioxide concentration among the participating schools, in line with the WHO air quality guidelines. However, the shielding effect of walls and distance from the main roads was not demonstrated for PM 2.5 particles.

This project builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ and the City of Paris’ ongoing efforts to tackle air pollution in cities across the globe. The report published by Airparif today confirmed the importance of having an efficient monitoring system based on a set of reference tools (for example, a network of reference stations, mappings, measuring campaigns, etc.) to verify and validate the quality of the data provided by microsensors. This pilot provided important learnings on the deployment of a microsensor network of this scale in major global cities, like Paris, and the findings will be shared with other cities that are considering similar strategies. This partnership builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support of international efforts to improve air quality through local initiatives with the cities of Brussels, London, and Jakarta as well as the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

“Data is a critical tool in the fight against air pollution, particularly to protect the most vulnerable, including children. Our network of low-cost sensors has provided highly localized information on students’ exposure to pollution – and underscored the importance of city efforts to clean the air,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and 108th Mayor of New York City. “We’re glad to support Mayor Hidalgo’s critical work protecting public health, and we hope to spread our work to other cities committed to improving air quality monitoring and saving lives.”

Since 2014, the City of Paris has been taking action to tackle sources of air pollution, notably by promoting public transportation and various forms of non-motorized mobility to reduce traffic, and by implementing one of the first Zones à Faibles Émissions (Low Emission Zones) in France. These measures are having a concrete and quantifiable impact on the reduction of nitrogen dioxyde (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2,5, PM10) concentrations. The fight against air pollution is a priority and will remain at the center of the initiatives taken by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s office throughout her term.

“Breathing clean air is a fundamental right and a public health measure. Alongside many other cities around the world, Paris is committed to pursuing actions to tackle pollution in line with the Paris Agreement. The return of the United States to the Paris Agreement, thanks to President Biden, is also a strong commitment that reminds us that we have little time left to act,” said Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. “During this mandate, we will gain even more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Schoolyards will remain open on weekends and we will always make more room for nature so that Parisians can breathe better and enjoy their neighborhoods. We will also reach a new milestone in the fight against air pollution by prohibiting access of the most polluting diesel vehicles to Paris.”

The joint project also involved international partners, including scientific contribution from the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London (formerly at King’s College London), and Clarity, a California-based company that specializes in air quality measurement technologies.

The City of Paris and Bloomberg Philanthropies will continue their partnership – together with Airparif – to address air pollution as a major public health issue, with awareness-raising projects and studies to improve air quality data and help identify actions to meaningfully reduce pollution levels.

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and TikTok.

About Airparif:
Airparif is the independent air quality observatory of the Île-de-France region accredited by the French ministry in charge of the environment. Airparif’s mission is to:

– Monitor air quality impacting Ile-de-France residents using a robust and reliable measuring system;

– Help understand air pollution, its impacts and its evolution, by participating in knowledge building and transfer,

– Support citizens, and all stakeholders, to improve air quality in relation to energy and climate, by helping to inform and provide its expertise for the development and evaluation of action plans;

– Innovate by supporting new solutions that improve air pollution and evaluate the performance of these innovations.

Media Contact:
Daphne Wang – Bloomberg Philanthropies, +1 646-771-1473, daphne@bloomberg.org

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