Paris speed limits cut by 20kph amid heatwave warning

Traffic in Paris and surrounding region will see speed limits cut by 20kph as temperatures rise

Speed limits in Paris and Ile-de-France have been cut by 20kph from today in response to high levels of ozone pollution linked to rising temperatures, as a “level three heatwave plan” is declared in the region.

The speed limit measure will last for at least two days (Tuesday July 24 - Wednesday July 25).

It comes as the city of Paris breached its ozone pollution threshold on Monday (July 23), exacerbated by the rising high temperatures that prompted the heatwave warning.

Forecasts say it could reach 35°C by Friday.

Air quality monitoring service Airparif found that concentration levels of ozone pollution reached 200mcg/m³ yesterday, breaching the recommended limit of 180mcg/m³.

As well as the speed limit cut for normal traffic, drivers will be asked to car-share where possible and only drive in the area when strictly necessary, said the Paris prefecture.

Vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes will be asked to bypass the city centre and nearby surroundings completely.

Similarly, any businesses that use polluting machinery will be asked to reduce operations, and “avoid using solvent-based products, such as acetone, varnishes, glues or paints”.

So-called “ozone” emissions - mainly produced by traffic and industry - can cause eye irritation and lung problems, especially in children or asthmatics.

Rising temperatures have been blamed for worsening the issue, as heat in the capital and Ile-de-France is expected to reach 32°C later today, rising throughout the week.

Forecasters suggest that temperatures in the area will not drop lower than 23°C over the next three days, even overnight - prompting plans for a level three heatwave procedure to be put in place.

A statement from the police prefecture said: “These two consecutive days constitute a persistent pollution episode requiring phases of urgent measures."

Authorities are set to have a meeting on the issues later today, and could choose to adopt traffic measures that would limit the movement of highly-polluting cars, according to their “Crit’Air” labels - the labelling system that identifies cars’ pollution output level.

At the same time, the level three heatwave warning means certain conditions will be put in place to help vulnerable people suffering from the heat.

The Paris Mairie has opened a telephone line (3975) for fragile people who may need critical care. The number is also available for professional health or social workers who need relief and who have signed up to the service in advance.

People calling the number will have access to air-conditioned rooms between 14h and 18h during the level three warning period.

These rooms are most likely to be found in EHPAD centres (care homes) or, in certain cases, in Parisian hotels, and may also be found in local arrondissement Mairies or in local social clubs.

All members of the public are warned to drink water regularly, to dampen their skin and stay within reach of a fan, and avoid strenuous physical activity.

Older people, young children, and pregnant women are warned to take especial care.

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