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France restricts driving in the face of smog

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French officials are taking tough measures to try and combat the rising problem of smog in Paris.

The French government has imposed driving restrictions on Parisian roads to tackle rising pollution levels, which is the first ban of its kind in 20 years within the country.

Warming weather, state-backed diesel subsidies and high private car ownership have all contributed to the prevalence of health-threatening smog in the French capital. According to European Environment Agency (EEA) figures, there are currently 147 microgrammes of particulate matter per cubic metre of air in Paris, in comparison with 79.7 in London.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a limit of 25 PM, whereas in China, current levels are estimated to be over 500 PM in regions including Beijing. High levels can prove hazardous to health as toxic particles enter the bloodstream and lungs. 

Under the new restrictions, drivers will only be allowed to use their cars on alternate days -- depending on odd or even numbers on their number plates. To prevent drivers from being stranded when they are barred from driving, the French government is offering free public transport and bicycle use, and has also launched a number of electric car sharing schemes.

In a news conference on Sunday, Environment Minister Philippe Martin warned that the smog is likely to get worse, and the government's "core objective is to ensure public safety because we want to end this pollution."

Read on: HP | Reuters

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— By on March 17, 2014, 4:49 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure