Man With Severe Asthma Saved From Deportation Due To Air Pollution Concerns

Smoke from brick factories fills the skies above Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Image credit: Dmitry Chulov/Shutterstock.com

A court in France has saved a man from being deported because of his poor health condition and the poor air quality in his country of birth, which would exacerbate it. While the ruling is thought to be a first for the country, environmental concerns are set to become an increasingly common theme in global migration as the climate crisis continues.  

Info Migrants reports that the 40-year-old Bangladeshi man, who lives in the French city of Toulouse, suffers from severe asthma and was refused the renewal of his residence permit in June 2019, risking deportation to his country of birth. However, the Bordeaux Administrative Court's Court of Appeal granted foreigner status to the man on December 18 after taking into account his respiratory health and the poor air quality in Bangladesh.

The appeal explained that the unnamed man suffers a severe form of asthma, which requires extensive medication and treatment. His health condition has also led to severe sleep apnea, requiring him to sleep with specialized ventilation equipment each night. Since this ventilation equipment is not widely available in Bangladesh, the court said he was allowed to stay in France; the first time such a decision has been granted in a French court with environmental factors as the main criteria.  

“To my knowledge, this is the first time a French court has applied the environment as one of its criteria in such a case,” Ludovic Rivière, the anonymous man’s lawyer, told the Guardian. “It decided my client’s life would be endangered by the air quality in Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh has regularly been cited as the world's most polluted country in regards to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) exposure. PM2.5 is a term used to describe extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the atmosphere, such as dust, soot, and particulates from vehicle exhausts or industrial activity.

Breathing in this nasty stuff is closely linked to a host of health complications, especially cardiovascular problems. The microscopic particles can become lodged in the lungs to potentially enter the bloodstream, triggering asthma attacks, and other respiratory impacts. Data from the World Health Organization shows that air pollution in Bangladesh likely led to around 349,663 premature deaths in 2012. Indeed, the father of the man in this recent court case died of an asthma attack aged 54.

As the state of the planet’s natural environments continues to degrade across the world, we can expect to see further strains on global human health — and a rising number of legal challenges and political issues attempting to address them. The UK recently saw a landmark legal case in which a 9-year-old girl from London became the first person in the country to have air pollution officially recognized as contributing to her cause of death. 

The world is starting to see a significant uptick in the number of people who have become displaced due to environmental degradation or destruction, known as environmental migrants and environmentally displaced people. The situation is only set to worsen as climate change continues to heighten the risk of water scarcity, crop failure, sea-level rise, storm surges, and other natural disasters. 

The World Bank believes that over the next three decades, climate change could force more than 143 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia to seek refuge. One report even suggested that there could be a staggering 2 billion displaced people fleeing from climate-related threats by the end of the century.

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