Winter weather conditions this week caused dangerously high levels of air pollution in Paris and beyond, the worst since 2007, according to France’s Environment Ministry.
Airparif, the national air quality and pollution agency, triggered an alert between Monday and Friday, with a rare “very high level” of extremely small particles, known as PM10, in the air around the French capital, and other parts of France on Wednesday and Thursday.
“These sustained levels [of PM10] are in large part linked to a winter anti-cyclone, bringing with it an accumulation of fine particles,” the agency said on Thursday.
With the capital shrouded in smog all week (see video below), the Paris prefecture of police on Friday advised members of the public to avoid unnecessary physical exertion, ensure proper use of respiratory medication such as inhalers, and with visibility unusually low, to limit driving speed on the roads.
Low temperatures can occasionally bring about a prevalence of air particles measuring less than 10 micrometres (one-millionth of a metre), known as PM10, with PM standing for “particulate matter.”
Such particles are too tiny to be filtered in the mouth and nostrils, and so embed themselves in the lungs more easily, and can have significant negative health effects.
To illustrate the dire quality of air in Paris this week, meteorological website Météo Consult on Wednesday published this short time-lapse video of the Eiffel Tower, obscured by clouds of particles throughout the day.