Paris has been struggling in recent weeks with a smoggy haze that greatly affects visibility throughout the city and poses a potential threat to the health of its citizens. Air pollution in the French capital reached concerning levels this week, and for a brief moment on Wednesday, Paris was the most polluted city on Earth, toppling New Delhi or Beijing, the usual holders of this negative record.
On March 18, the Eiffel Tower and other building rooftops in the center of Paris basically became no longer visible. The air quality index registered a value of 125 on Wednesday, according to Plume Labs, an organization that monitors air pollution levels in over 60 cities worldwide. It fell short of the critical 150 figure, but any number above 100 means people actually breathe air that is harmful for their health.
The smog persists in Paris even as we speak, although it dissipated enough to increase visibility to an acceptable level and to bring down the French capital from the top of the “most polluted place on the planet” list. In spite of the obvious proof, Paris officials still insist their city is far from being one of the places most affected by air pollution at the moment.
Karine Leger, who represents an agency monitoring air quality for the French Environment Ministry, admitted the city has “pollution issues, but lots of other cities do too.” “It’s the wrong idea to compare a city at a certain moment when you have meteorological conditions that could make the pollution worse at that point,” Leger argued.
While the weather has indeed favored the accumulation of dangerous particles in the air, since March has been a very dry month, some of the people from Paris’ City Hall have started working to prevent such a disaster from repeating itself in the future. On Saturday, public transportation and parking were free in the attempt to reduce car traffic and toxic gas emissions.
Christophe Najdovski, spokesman for the city’s transport commissioner, reminded people that a bill has been passed by the city hall banning all diesel cars produced before 2001, effective in July.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo also announced on her Twitter account on Saturday that a new piece of legislation has been approved, introducing alternating traffic in the city. The restriction will come into effect starting from Monday. Hidalgo declared herself “delighted” with the new measure.
Image Source: France 24
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