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by David Zalstein

Dangerously high pollution levels in Paris have triggered major restrictions on motorists, with only those with odd-numbered registration plates allowed to drive on the city’s streets yesterday.

If Monday’s restrictions continue, today will see motorists with even-numbered registration plates only permitted to use the roads.

The move comes after air pollution in Paris and its surrounding areas exceeded safe levels for five days running last week.

The BBC reports smoggy conditions caused by cold nights and warm days have prevented pollution from dispersing across the city.

Though the Paris air quality monitoring body Airparif says traffic restrictions have a noticeable impact on improving air quality, opposition leader Jean-Francois Cope said the ban lacked coherence and explanation.

“On the ground it’s really panic,” Cope said.

According to reports, on Friday, pollution levels of PM10 particulates – those emitted by vehicles, heating systems and heavy industry – reached 180 micrograms per cubic metre. The deemed ‘safe’ limit is 80µg/m³.

Motorcycles are included in the restrictions, while electric and hybrid vehicles, and cars carrying three or more passengers are exempt.

In an effort to encourage Parisians to leave their vehicles at home, public transport has been free since Friday.

It’s not the first time traffic restrictions have been used to reduce Paris’ pollution levels; the same tactic was employed in 1997.




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