Air Pollution and High Temperatures Make Paris a Very Uncomfortable City


More than 65 regions in France have been placed on alert due to very high temperatures, but the climate situation in the French capital is being exacerbated by record levels of air pollution.

With temperatures hitting 37 degrees Celsius, nearly 99 degrees Fahrenheit, comfort levels are reaching the point of exasperation in the City of Light. City officials took immediate action on June 21 by reducing speed limits on the highways, asking drivers to stay home and limiting the number of delivery trucks allowed to enter the metropolitan area.

Post office workers in Paris have been tasked with knocking on the doors of flats known to be occupied by elderly residents who live by themselves. This safety check is necessary to avoid unfortunate situations such as during 2003, when thousands of senior citizens passed away during major heatwaves.

Despite the unbearable heat and air pollution, a nationwide music festival that features street performers took place the entire week. Parisians have been flocking to fountains, riverbanks and ponds in an effort to cool off. The first heatwave of the year has taken place a few weeks earlier than usual, and some scientists believe it may be due to climate change.

Paris is hardly the only French city affected by the heatwave. In the northern border with Germany, Strasbourg residents had to deal with temperatures close to 36 degrees on June 20 and June 21. In the western and southern regions, locals and tourists flocked to the beaches.

French workers are being urged to remind their employers that the labor code legally binds them to provide a comfortable and safe workplace at all times. During periods of intense heat, French employers would be obligated to provide fans and plenty of cold water. Dress codes can also be relaxed, and work hours can be modified to avoid the scorching afternoons.

Public health officials in France are broadcasting recommendations for dealing with the heat, particularly to families with elderly members.

Thus far, the month of June is expected to be among the three hottest in French history. Meteorologists believe that the summer of 2017 will be at least one degree warmer than average. Climate models suggest that temperatures should climb by 0.7 degrees on an annual basis from now until 2020. One positive aspect of the longer summers is that tourists from other parts of Europe are now flocking to the south of France earlier than usual.

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