In a hope that a few more Parisians will leave their cars at home -- and not add to the smog that has choked the European capital for days -- French officials are offering free public transportation in the country's major cities.
Pollution, unseasonably warm weather, cool nights and still, lazy air have combined to generate a blanket of smog across much of France -- making for miserable breathing conditions and moving the European Environment Agency to issue a maximum alert for three-quarters of the country. Its the worst air pollution since 2007, officials at the agency say.
Metro, buses and trains are all free from today until Sunday night in Paris, Caen, Grenoble, Reims and Rouen. Paris' rental bike and car-share programs are also free.
Jean-Paul Huchon, who heads the organization that manages Paris' transportation system, told The Telegraph that the city's toxic air posed "significant risks to the health of residents.”
Smog pollution is measured by determining the number of small particulates, either PM10 or PM2.5 (particles measuring 10 microns or larger, and 2.5 microns or larger), in a cubic meter of air. France typically uses PM10 to make determinations of air safety. Air quality alerts are issued in France when PM10 in the air surpasses 80 microns per cubic meter of air.
And though breathing the unfiltered Parisian air this weekend may be ill-advised, smog levels in cities like New Delhi or Beijing have PM10 readings that regularly push north of 120.
According to Airparif, an organization that monitors air quality in Paris, the city's PM10 reading currently sits at 70, while its PM2.5 measure is a dangerous 152.
[The Telegraph UK]