World Bulletin / News Desk
The ongoing spike in air pollution in the Paris region worsened Wednesday and will continue on Thursday, according to Airparif, a French watchdog which monitors air quality.
“For a week, the Paris region is undergoing a peak of winter pollution, the most intense and longest in at least 10 years,” the watchdog said.
“This peak is due to an increase in particulate emissions, mainly related to wood heating and traffic, combined with the prolongation of weather favorable to their maintenance near the ground (low wind, temperature contrast),” explained Airparif.
Local authorities made public transport free on Tuesday and Wednesday and introduced alternate driving in order to reduce pollution.
Only cars with license plates that end in odd numbers, electric or hybrid vehicles, and vehicles with more than three people on board were allowed to drive Wednesday. Only even-numbered plates were allowed on the roads on Tuesday.
Paris was previously put on an air-pollution alert in December 2012 because cold weather entrapped diesel fumes, leading to the most severe smog in the French capital since 2007.
A study published by France's national health agency this June said that air pollution in France kills 48,000 people each year.
The study focused on PM2.5 particles, or particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or less.
Those particles are small enough to invade even the smallest airways of the human body which produce respiratory and cardiovascular illness.
Over 47 million French people are exposed to a level of these particles that is considered to be unsafe by the World Health Organization (WHO).