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Areas of France on alert for air pollution spike as heatwave continues

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Areas of France on alert for air pollution spike as heatwave continues
Photo: AFP
10:04 CEST+02:00
Parts of France are taking measures to combat a rise in pollution seen in several areas of the country as a result of the scorching summer temperatures.
Several areas in the south and south west have been placed on alert for pollution while other regions such as the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France are also taking measures to deal with the spike in dirty air. 
 
The rise in pollution is a result of the rising mercury seen across the country in recent days which had led to 18 departments being placed on heatwave alert on Wednesday and low wind levels.
 
In Paris, which is currently on heatwave alert, any vehicles with a level 4 or 5 sticker on the recently introduced system will be banned from all roads inside the A86 motorway, the second ring road around Paris and, if the conditions continue, the other vehicles may also have restricted use.
 
Level 4 vehicles are those with diesel engines from 2001 to 2005 (Euro 3) and level 5 vehicles are those with diesel engines from 1997 to 2000 (Euro 2).
 
Photo: AFP
 
City authorities have also reduced the speed limit by 20 km/h ( for example making it 110 km/h instead of 130km/h on the motorway) and factories emitting pollutants must also reduce the operation of their facilities while all companies are advised to consider letting their employees work from home. 
 
Transport authority Île-de-France Mobilites have set up an "anti-pollution" fare which allows people to travel across the Ile-de-France region for just €3.80 in a bid to encourage the use of public transport rather than personal vehicles. 
 
The Var and Bouches-du-Rhone departments in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France, the departments of Haute-Garonne, where France's 'Pink City' Toulouse is most at risk, and Herault in the south, were placed on alert for pollution on Wednesday.
 
Photo: AFP
 
Pollution levels were particularly bad in the Gard department of the south. 
 
Among the measures taken as a result of these alerts include the lowering of speed limits by 20km/h on roads in the Bouches-du-Rhone department (as long as this doesn't take the speed limit below 70 km/h) and police are ensuring that motorists are complying with speed limits. 
 
People in highly polluted areas have been advised to "reduce physical activity and avoid intense outdoor sports" as well as to "limit private and business travel and the use of motor vehicles by favoring ridesharing and public transport" in order to help improve air quality. 
 
The authorities have advised "postponing travel" and walking or cycling instead of using vehicles. 
 
Speed limits were also reduced by 20km/h (with a minimum speed limit of 70km/h) on main roads in the northeastern areas of Alsace and Lorraine on Thursday in the Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin, Moselle, Meuse and Meurthe-et-Moselle departments due to a pollution warning.
 
"This episode of pollution is of the type we see in summer which means it is related to the ozone," said ATMO Grand Est, an organisation responsible for monitoring air quality. 
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