Commuters in Paris are being invited to take public transit for free over the weekend in an attempt to curb heightened pollution levels, the AP reports.
After several days of visible smog, Paris’s Air Quality Index reached 185 on Friday, the worst air pollution levels in the city since 2007. AQI readings below 50 are considered “normal” for urban areas, though most major cities routinely record scores between 50 and 100.
Paris’s public transit initiative is specifically aimed at reducing the contribution of vehicle emissions, particularly those from diesel engines, to the yellowish haze hanging over the city. Other key contributors include industrial emissions and seasonal pollutants from fertilizers and brushfires.
Officials say the influx of smog — which is covering much of Europe, including major cities like Brussels and London — is linked to a pattern of unseasonably warm, windless days and cold nights, which disrupts the natural ascension of pollution particles from the ground into the atmosphere. In fact, it's so bad that in London on Friday, air quality was reported to be worse than Beijing, where the AQI was 159.
Still, it's not quite as bad as last year's record smog day in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, where visibility was down to 10 m in some places.