A French mother and daughter are suing the state for failing to ward against air pollution they say caused them both serious respiratory problems in the first ever such case to come to court.
The pair asked for €160,000 (£140,000) in damages from the state at the administrative court of Montreuil in the east of Paris on Tuesday.
They argue that public authorities took insufficient measures against dangerously high atmospheric pollution in the Paris area in December 2016 – the most serious surge in damaging fine particles in a decade.
At the time, the two women were living in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Ouen, just outside the clogged périphérique ring road, used by more than a million motorists per day, and in close proximity to two other major roads.
The mother, 52, had to take time off work due to lung infections and the daughter, 16, suffered asthma attacks. They argue their respiratory problems were linked to air pollution.
Since the spike, they have moved to the city of Orleans on doctors’ advice and their health has improved considerably, according to lawyer Francois Lafforgue.
He argued that French authorities had failed to implement “more protective rules for the population” and did not make use of measures at their disposal, only belatedly imposing a partial driving ban and making public transport free during the spike. When they did impose measures, they failed to properly enforce them, he argued.