Paris air quality improves as anti-coronavirus measures reduce pollution

Air pollution went down by 20 percent to 30 percent in Paris and its suburbs last week compared to the same period in previous years, as an anti-coronavirus lockdown imposed on March 17 had halted transport, Paris air quality monitoring agency Airparif said.

In its bulletin released on Tuesday, the independent group said that recent air quality readings found “an improvement in air quality of around 20 to 30 percent in the Paris area, following a drop of more than 60 percent in emissions of nitrogen oxides,” after the government ordered people to stay at home and avoid non-essential journeys.

“Along with the traffic axes, this impact can be even more significant,” it said, noting that “in 40 years of Airparif measurement, this situation has never happened in such a big way and on so many stations.”

As the country entered the second week of nationwide lockdown, Airparif expected “good” air quality thanks to a significant drop in emissions due to reduced air and road traffic and favorable weather condition.

On March 17, France imposed a lockdown for at least 15 days. Only trips for reasons of work, health needs or shopping for necessities are allowed to help contain coronavirus epidemic.

The confinement would likely to last for at six weeks, according to France’s scientific council, which advises the French government on the epidemic crisis. It argued that three weeks were needed to obtain an initial estimate of the impact.

On Tuesday, France’s virus fatalities rose to 1,100 and confirmed infection cases totaled 22,302. Some 2,516 patients were in intense care units.