Since the 1990s, several epidemiological studies have highlighted the impact on health of urban atmospheric pollution. However, there are very few studies on the health effects of living or working near major thoroughfares. The regulations acknowledge the need for impact studies when road infrastructures whose configuration, size or location may affect the environment or human health are constructed, renovated or modified. The studies should analyse the effects of the project on various environmental factors, including air, water, soil and noise pollution as well as vibrations and waste generation.
In the context of its assessment, ANSES conducted an analysis of the potentially hazardous pollutants emitted by road traffic. From among these pollutants, the Agency selected those which should be analysed for their health effects with regard to emissions, atmospheric concentrations and toxicological data, specifying the routes and durations of exposure for each one.
The assessment proposed a list of 14 pollutants and 2 families of pollutants for road infrastructure impact studies, including: particles (PM10 and PM2,5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), acetaldehyde, acrolein, ammonia (NH3), arsenic (As), benzene, 1,3-butadiene, chromium (Cr), ethylbenzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene, nickel (Ni), propionaldehyde, the family of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the dioxin\furan family.
These pollutants cover exposure by long- and short-term inhalation, by dust ingestion and as a result of ground-hand-mouth contact, as well as food ingestion, specifically from private vegetable gardens close to roadways.
Recommendations have also been made for the health risk assessment of certain pollutants (particles and nitrogen dioxide) and families of pollutants (PAHs and dioxins\furans).
In addition, the Agency has identified potential research areas for improving knowledge of emissions from road infrastructures.
It suggests conducting measurement campaigns representative of the diversity of road infrastructures in order to more effectively document the contribution of traffic to PAH and dioxin\furan concentrations in the air.
ANSES also recommends acquiring data for non-regulated pollutants in order to improve the tools for calculating emissions due to exhaust, vehicle running and re-suspension of particles deposited on the road surface.