Earlier this week locals in Brittany were ordered to reduce their speed when driving and told that outdoor sporting activities should be avoided by anyone with pre-existing health issues due to the level of pollution which had been exacerbated by sand arriving from the Sahara.
Each year more than 500 French cities exceed the recommended concentration limit of fine particles in the air, with 48,000 deaths in France related to fine-particle air pollution each year, according to the latest report from the country's Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity.
For PM2.5 particles – basically the particles of air that are the most dangerous to a person's health – the World Health Organisation (WHO) has set an upper limit of 10 micrograms of dirty air particles. If this was achieved, it would help dramatically cut the number of deaths caused by pollution.
However a total of 500 French cities exceed this concentration limits of fine particles in the air each year.
The main reasons behind this are road traffic and wood fires, with good weather and mild temperatures also playing a role in pollution peaks.
Here are the towns and cities in France that had the worst pollution in 2018, according to a report by air quality information site AirVisual.
1. Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), 17,6 μg/m3
2. Saint-Mandé (Val-de-Marne) 16,2 μg/m3
3. Paris 15,6 μg/m3
4. Valenciennes (Nord) 15,3 μg/m3
5. Douai (Nord) 15 μg/m3
6. Roubaix (Nord) 14,9 μg/m3
7. Salaise-sur-Sanne (Isère) 14,7 μg/m3
8. Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin) 14,4 μg/m3
9. Lille (Nord) 14,3 μg/m3
10. Saint-Quentin (Aisne) 14,3 μg/m3
On a more positive note, France's Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity said that “the implementation of various strategies and action plans led to an overall improvement in air quality” between 2007 and 2017, adding that pollutants are decreasing.
French words to know
fine-particle air pollution – pollution aux particules fines
maximum speed – la vitesse maximale
sand particles – particules de sable