Paris set for (yet another) spike in pollution levels

Thursday is going to a smoggy day in Paris, as December proves to be one of the worst months for pollution in years.

Paris set for (yet another) spike in pollution levels
A smoggy day in Paris. Photo: AFP

The City of Light will turn into the City of Smog again on Thursday, at least according to Airparif, which monitors pollution in the capital.

The forecast comes after Paris suffered worrying air quality throughout much of December, seeing public transport made free and traffic restrictions on several days.

It remains unknown as yet if similar measures will be taken on Thursday, although at a cost of €4million a day, authorities will want to be truly sure the move is worth it. 

Airparif noted in a statement that the pollution level would be “elevated” throughout the day.

This month's surge in Paris pollution has been the most serious in Paris in at least a decade, the group said.

It is estimated that fine-particle pollution causes 48,000 premature deaths a year in France.

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Paris faces legal claim over lead pollution from Notre-Dame fire

Paris authorities have been accused of failing to safeguard the health of people living near Notre-Dame cathedral due to lead pollution from a devastating fire two years ago.

Paris faces legal claim over lead pollution from Notre-Dame fire
A complaint has been lodged over lead pollution in Paris from the devastating fire at Notre Dame cathedral Photo: Fabien Barrau | AFP

Local families along with the Paris branch of the CGT trade union and the anti-pollution association Henri Pezerat, have filed the legal complaint alleging city and public health authorities endangered lives.

“Despite the scale of the fire and knowledge about the risk of pollution and contamination… no precaution in particular was taken by the authorities involved for more than three months after the fire,” according to a copy of the complaint seen by AFP.

It says 400 tonnes of lead from the roof of the Gothic masterpiece melted or were dispersed as microparticles over the French capital during the blaze on April 15, 2019.

“Children (in crèches and schools), neighbours and workers have clearly been exposed to the risk of lead” pollution, the complaint adds. “These facts amount to the crime of endangering the lives of others.”

The square in front of the cathedral was closed again to the public in May this year after tests revealed high concentrations of toxic lead particles.

Several months after the fire, city authorities ordered a deep-clean of schools in the area, while children and pregnant women were urged to have blood tests.

The complaint says the city withheld information from school directors and failed to act promptly. It also targets the police department, the culture ministry and regional health authorities.

The efforts of firefighters ensured the great medieval edifice survived the fire despite the collapse of the spire and much of the roof being destroyed.

But the lead risks delayed work on clearing debris and launching the restoration effort for the landmark, which President Emmanuel Macron wants open for visitors in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, but they have said an accident, possibly caused by a short circuit or discarded cigarette butt, remains the most likely explanation.