Until 31 December 2004, underground car parks were subject to regulations governing classified sites for environmental protection (ICPE) comprising a declaratory system for underground car parks with 250 to 1000 vehicle spaces, and an authorisation system for underground car parks with over 1000 vehicle spaces (section 2935).
On 1 January 2005 (decree n°2004-645 of 30 June 2004 amending the nomenclature of classified sites), the declaratory system for underground car parks was removed. This measure was the first part of a regulatory transition: underground car parks are due to become public establishments of the underground car park type, no longer falling within the regulatory scope of classified sites (with the exception of those under the French Employment Code or housing regulations).
In this framework, the French Ministry of the Interior, Domestic Security and Local Liberties therefore prepared a draft ministerial order defining the administrative and regulatory provisions of these establishments, particularly provisions governing fire safety and the panic risk and those seeking to avoid all health risks for public establishments.
It is in this context that Afsset was asked to conduct expert assessments on underground car parks and the potential health risk associated with the air quality in these enclosed areas.
The French Ministries of Health and Social Protection and Ecology and Sustainable Development called on Afsset to conduct an expert assessment of the air quality criteria applicable to underground car parks. This request follows a draft ministerial order from the French Ministry of the Interior, Domestic Security and Local defining provisions governing fire safety and the panic risk in these establishments, in which technical rules seeking to avoid all health risks for public establishments would be integrated.
The products concerned as a priority are carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides.
As a first step, Afsset made general comments on the limit values proposed on the basis of the literature available and reference values and standards already existing.
Then, based on the recommendations drawn up by the CSE "Assessments of the risks associated with air environments" and in agreement with this CSE, Afsset set up a working group (gathering several CSE members) to collect and analyse recent data on pollutant concentrations found in underground car parks on the one hand and recommend new limit values for concentrations of pollutants applicable to underground car parks on the other. This work also included an overview of French and international literature on pollutant concentrations in underground car parks.
After Afsset issued the general comments on the limit values proposed on the basis of the literature available and reference values and standards already existing, an initial opinion from the Committee of Specialised Experts (CSE) "Assessments of risks associated with air environments" concluded that the limit values featured in the regulations were insufficient. It therefore suggested conducting a more detailed review of the limit values proposed, taking other atmospheric pollutants in addition to CO and NO2 into consideration and giving attention to ventilation management.
The Agency therefore set up a working group and set to work, particularly by funding a measurement campaign on several sites to document the expert assessment (the Étoile-Foch car park was not included in this campaign).
The results of the expert assessment conducted by the working group will be revealed at the end of 2006.