Paris puts partial ban on cars to fight smog

Move to ban cars with even number plates for a day brings pollution levels down by 40 per cent

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 24 March 2015

Photo courtesy: Nelson Minar/Flickr

Paris on Monday imposed a day-long ban on cars with even number plates and made public transport free after its air pollution levels briefly surpassed that of Shanghai.

According to Plume Labs, Paris last Wednesday hit 127 for a few hours in its air pollution index chart of 60 cities, with Shanghai in second place on 106 and London on 91.The index considers an air quality level of above 100 “harmful” and above 150 as "critical".

The announcement also says trucks will drive around the capital with a maximum speed of 20 km an hour to cut levels of dangerous micro-particles. Motorists unauthorised to drive face a $24 fine and will be told to leave their car where it is or see it impounded.

Commercial, electric or hybrid cars are all exempt, as well as those carrying at least three people. Use of Autolibs, Paris’ low cost rental electric cars, is free for the first hour for subscribers.

The ban came after a strong prevalence of particles with a diameter of less than 10 microns, or PM10, that cause asthma, allergies and respiratory ailments.

The Guardian quoted Paris police saying the measures had reduced traffic jams in and around Paris by up to 40 per cent and that 2,800 drivers had been stopped and given on-the-spot fines.

The safe limit for PM10 is set at 80 microgrammes per cubic metre (mcg/m3). According to 2011 World Health Organisation figures, Ahwaz, in southwestern Iran, has highest PM10 levels with 372 parts per million of PM10. Beijing, by comparison, was at 121 parts per million, Paris at 38 and London at 29.

The steps are not unprecedented. The city took similar measures on March 17, 2014, when pollution from smog reached dangerous levels.

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