Toxic smog smothers the city of lights, cuts Paris traffic in half
Sunday, March 22, 2015, 3:39 PM - Heavy clouds of smog have cast a gloomy shadow over Paris, leaving the city of lights nearly unrecognizable -- and almost uninhabitable.
Images of the Eiffel Tower show the iconic structure shrouded in a thick, dark haze.
Air pollution has become a growing concern across the French capital and parts of northern France since last week.
Airparif, the governing body that monitors air quality levels in the greater Paris area, indicated medium to high pollution levels over the weekend on their official website.
Levels are determined by the amount of PM-10 particles in the air. These harmful particles can cause breathing and respiratory problems, and even cancer after long term exposure.
Smog has been so severe that officials have ordered driving restrictions throughout the city.
Smog in Paris yesterday leads to health alert in UK today. We need strict EU-wide limits to tackle air pollution pic.twitter.com/E2KII7AaP7— Catherine Bearder (@catherinemep) March 19, 2015
Cars are only permitted to drive on certain days of the week, based on their licence plate numbers.
Speed restrictions are also being enforced in order to lessen harmful emissions, limiting drivers to traveling no more than 20 km/h on city streets.
Public transportation is free in an effort to discourage Parisians from driving.
The recent spike is a result of changing weather patterns, mainly areas of high pressure and sinking winds that tend to trap pollutants at lower levels in the atmosphere.
Emissions from vehicle traffic, local industry and farms are also partially to blame.
Similar measures were implemented in March 2014, during a similar in urban pollution.
Paris is not alone
The pollution affecting the City of Light isn't a unique problem for Europeans. On Thursday, London residents woke up to find a thick blanket of smog covering their city.
The smog triggered air pollution warnings in Britain, as officials warned that the air pollution could be problematic for those with asthma or heart problems.
A spokesman for U.K.'s Met Office talked to local media saying "The Met Office is working very closely with Defra and Public Health England to ensure they have the most up-to-date and accurate air quality forecasts in order to provide relevant advice to the public."
London has a recurring issues with pollution.
"Pollution in the capital often exceeds EU limits, with the high level of diesel powered cars and buses and the cities narrow streets often leading to poor air quality," Weather Network UK meteorologist Chris Burton explains.
Source: The Guardian
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