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Urgent anti-pollution measures triggered in Grand-Est

Urgent anti-pollution measures, including a reduction in the road speed limit, have been enacted in the Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Moselle and Meurthe-et-Moselle today (Sunday 4 March).

The measures were triggered in the Grand Est departments after levels of the dangerous PM10 fine particles were found to be too high.

The rules began at midnight on Sunday in Moselle and Meurthe-et-Moselle, and at 6h in the Bas-Rhin and the Haut-Rhin.

“The alert procedure has been triggered for the whole day,” explained a press release from ATMO Grand Est, the region’s air quality monitoring group.

The measures particularly affect the speed limit.

The maximum permitted speed for all vehicles has been lowered by 20kph everywhere (although never dropping below 70kph).

Residents are banned from burning firewood in their homes, unless it is their sole source of heat, and are warned to limit driving on the departments' main roads.

Locals are also warned against intense sporting activities such as competitive races, whether outdoors or indoors.

In addition, there is a ban on burning any natural rubbish - such as plants or agricultural waste.

No firework lighting is allowed, and any public works (such as roadworks) need to meet certain conditions for their equipment and generators, to be allowed to continue.

Anyone experiencing respiratory difficulties, or heart issues such as palpitations, should speak to a pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible.

PM10 particles are considered to be among the most dangerous of all air pollutants. Their extremely small diameter (equal to 10 micrometres or less; 0.01 of a millimetre) can easily get into the lungs, causing health problems.

Young children, older people, pregnant women and those with heart or lung conditions are likely to be most affected.

In the long term, excessive exposure to these particles can cause cancer, and reduce life expectancy, warns the Bas-Rhin prefecture website.

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