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Paris pollution like being in room with eight smokers, report

Pollution in Paris, March 2014. File.
Pollution in Paris, March 2014. File. Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Paris will restrict  access to cars with high CO2 emissions as from next year, the mayor's office said on Monday, following the release of an alarming report that compared a bad day in the French capital to heavy passive smoking.

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Air pollution on 13 December 2013 meant that Parisians were breathing in up to six million fine particles per litre of air, according to a report released on Monday.

"A laboratory tests showed that the smoke of eight cigarettes in a 20m² room produces the same number of particles," said the report made public by Airparif, which monitors the city's air pollution, the local council and the CNRS research centre.

It shows that on an average day Parisians breathe in 200,000 fine particles (measuring less than 1 micron) per air litre.

In response to the report, the city will introduce restrictions on cars in 2015, especially  targeting cars with high CO2 emissions, such as diesel motors, Paris council's transport chief Christophe Najdovski announced.

Fine particles are most harmful to humans as they not only damage the lungs but also enter the bloodstream and can cause heart disease and stroke.

This is the first time such fine particles have been considered in a study, thanks to a new light optical aerosol counter floating over the city in a balloon.  

In France fine particules are responsible for the deaths of 42,000 people per year.

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