Environmental

Paris takes cars off the streets as smog cloud covers the city

Dec. 5, 2016: A small-particle haze hangs above the La Defense business district skyline that is seen in the distance in Courbevoie, near Paris, France.

Dec. 5, 2016: A small-particle haze hangs above the La Defense business district skyline that is seen in the distance in Courbevoie, near Paris, France.  (Reuters)

Officials trying to fight Paris’ worst winter pollution in a decade have banned many cars from the streets in a bid to clear the smog from the French capital.

The surge in pollution is being caused by cold weather and windless conditions trapping exhaust fumes and smoke from wood fires in the atmosphere, the AirParif air monitoring service said, according to the AFP.

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The current level of fine airborne particles is at 60 percent of the level in Beijing – one of the world’s most notorious polluted cities.

Officials in Paris announced that private cars with license plates ending in odd numbers are banned from the streets between 5:30 a.m. and midnight. The rule has been in place since Tuesday, alternating between even and odd plates, and is extended until at least Thursday, the AFP reports.

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Traffic cops fined more than 1,700 drivers Tuesday for breaking the rules.

City officials are also offering public transit for free to encourage commuters to keep their vehicles parked at home.

"It feels like I'm smoking 10 cigarettes instead of one," Mohamed Navhit, a tricycle rickshaw driver, told AFP.

This is the fourth time the city has taken such measures to fight air pollution, previously doing so in 1997, 2014 and 2015. The current level of winter pollution is its worst in a decade, according to the AFP.

Outside of Paris, officials in the southeast Rhone valley region said they would introduce similar measures to crack down on pollution in the city of Lyon.

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