Pollution spike prompts car ban in Paris and speed limit cut around France

The most polluting vehicles were banned from Paris on Wednesday and lower speed limits were imposed around the country due to a spike in air pollution.

Pollution spike prompts car ban in Paris and speed limit cut around France
Photo: AFP
French authorities have taken the precaution of reducing speed limits in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France, the eastern Rhone department and northern departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. 
In the Ile-de-France, the police have reduced the speed limit by 20km/h on roads where drivers can usually travel at speeds of 90km/h, 110km/h and 130km/h. 
Roadside checks have been set up to ensure that motorists are respecting the revised speed limit due to a spike in pollution over the past few days even though air pollution levels do not currently exceed the alert threshold. 
On top of that the most polluting vehicles, those carrying Crit'Air 4 and 5 stickers, will be banned from driving in Paris and the surrounding suburbs on Wednesday. 
Between 5:30 am and midnight, only vehicles with Crit'Air 0 to 3 stickers will be allowed to travel in this area.
Air quality has been particularly bad in Lille (pictured above) during the current spike. Photo: AFP
Because of this episode of pollution, the City of Paris decided to make residential parking free on Tuesday to encourage motorists to leave their cars at home and use public transport or non-polluting transport.
Limits have also been lowered by 20km/h in the Rhone department on roads where the speed limit is usually 90km/h, 110km/h and 130km/h and by 10km/h on the roads where the speed limit is usually 80km/h on Tuesday at 5am.
The air is “very bad” above the city of Lyon, according to reports.
In the Nord and the Pas-de-Calais departments, the maximum speed limit has been reduced by 20km/h on roads where the limit is usually 110km/h and 130km/h due to the fact that the concentration of fine particles in the air “could exceed” recommended levels on Tuesday.  
This measure will remain in place until Wednesday at 10pm.
The air quality is particularly bad in Lille and Dunkerque in the Nord department and Bethune, Calais and Lens in Pas-de-Calais, according to authorities. 
If the air pollution gets worse on Wednesday, the Nord department plans could ban highly-polluting vehicles from the roads altogether.
From tomorrow in Lille, as in Paris, only the least polluting vehicles will be able to hit the roads.
Only vehicles carrying Crit'Air stickers 0-3 will be allowed on the roads while category 4 and 5 vehicles will have to leave their vehicle at home.

Member comments

  1. I posted this remark on another national forum the moment the French national speed limit was adjusted down from 90 to 80 kph; approximately a 10% reduction.

    ‘IT’s about AIR pollution – NOT safety’

    Which is absolutely fine by me – I just wish they’d been honest about the reasoning as it would have made a far bigger impact on the natives who, ultimately, either taped up, or totally wrecked, the nation’s speed cameras.

  2. Is this restriction just for the one day, i.e. Wednesday, or are they considering a more permanent change as on some roads in England?

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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.