Locals in Brittany have been ordered to reduce their speed when driving at 110 kilometres an hour by 20 kilometres an hour and told that outdoor sporting activities should be avoided by anyone with preexisting health issues.
Three departments of Brittany – Côtes-d’Armor, Ille-et-Vilaine, and Morbihan – were on orange alert for pollution, as was much of the neighbouring Normandy region.
The high levels of fine-particle air pollution are due to emissions from road traffic and ammonia emissions from the agricultural sector, according to the director of Air Breizh, an independent association that monitors air quality in Brittany.
Sand particles blowing in from the Sahara, on the winds that gave France unseasonably warm weather over the Easter holiday weekend, have added to the health risk.
The desert sands may be visible in some areas as they can leave a fine layer of dust on cars, and sometimes can even make the sky look a little red.
A 2016 study found that air pollution is behind the deaths of 48,000 people in France every year, and argued that most of the deaths are preventable.
French words to know:
fine-particle air pollution – pollution aux particules fines
maximum speed – la vitesse maximale
sand particles – particules de sable
tint the sky orange – teinter le ciel d'une couleur orange