When you think of polluted cities, the Chinese capital probably springs to mind above all others – as we have noted, given the record-breaking levels of lung-killing smog. But in the past few days, another city is competing with Beijing when it comes to air pollution: Paris. On Friday, the city’s air quality index rating rose to 185, which puts it firmly in the ‘unhealthy’ bracket with people suffering adverse health effects as a result of breathing the smog. In reaction to this, as France24 reports, for the first time in 17 years, France is limiting vehicle use.
Time-lapse video of Paris pollution:
France is limiting vehicle use in the capital Paris amid a spike in pollution to health-threatening levels, only the second time the drastic measure has been introduced in nearly two decades.
A system of “alternating traffic”, whereby vehicle use is restricted to alternate days depending on licence plate numbers, came into effect in Paris and its 22 surrounding suburbs at 5.30 am (04.30 GMT) on Monday, as the city tries to curb dangerous pollution levels.
The radical move has seen around 700 police officers deployed to 60 checkpoints around the French capital to ensure that only cars with number plates ending in odd numbers are out on the streets.
A decision will then be taken as to whether to extend the measure into Tuesday “depending on how the situation evolves”, a statement from the office of French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, with odd numbers potentially banned on Tuesday if an extension is deemed necessary.
Electric and hybrid cars will be exempted from the ban as well as any vehicle carrying three people or more.
It is the first time since 1997 that the French authorities have resorted to such a drastic measure.
Paris and much of northern France have been suffering under high pollution levels for several days after an extended period of cool, dry nights with much warmer daytime temperatures – climactic conditions that do not allow pollutant particles to disperse.
Friday saw pollution levels in the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, hit peaks of 185 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic metre of air, far beyond the maximum alert level of 80 micrograms.
So, it seems the Chinese tourists will be right at home in Europe…