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Health messages to be issued during episodes of ambient air pollution

Outdoor air  pollution, classidied as carcinogenic to human, comprises several pollutants including particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

The French regulation sets daily standards (information and recommendation; alert) for these four pollutants.

The French High Council for Public Health (Haut Conseil de la santé publique, HCSP) recall in the first place that outdoor air pollution impact on health results from long-term outdoor air quality much more than from occasional episodes of air pollution.

It makes proposals for health messages to be issued during episodes of pollution involving one or several of these four pollutants when either their information and recommendation standard or their alert standard is exceeded.

These messages are intended for either the general population or vulnerable/sensible populations (pregnant women, infants, young children as well as people suffering from respiratory or cardiac diseases, etc.) including their family and caregivers.

The HCSP insists that an efficient communication strategy:

  • requires messages written in a way that is easy to understand by everyone;
  • should enable everyone to identify oneself or others as particularly sensitive to air pollution;
  • must make the connection between health messages and messages engaging taking actions to lower the emissions that contributes to outdoor air pollution.

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