An alert to fine particle air pollution, in particular from the Sahara desert, was issued on February 24 throughout Corsica, the Alps and the Grand Est, where restrictions have been put in place.
Corsica is once again affected “by a southerly flow from the Sahara, leading to an increase in concentrations of fine particles (PM10)”, indicates the Qualitair Corse association, responsible for monitoring air quality.
Fine particulate matter levels are expected to remain high for the next few days, she says. “The threshold for information and recommendation of the public was exceeded on February 22 and 23 in Corse-du-Sud and on February 23 in Haute-Corse,” notes the organization.
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Vigilance in the Hautes-Alpes
This first threshold has already been exceeded in the Hautes-Alpes, where the prefecture calls for “vigilance”, the last step before the restrictions put in place in Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Isère.
These prefectures announced Wednesday the lowering of speed limits on the roads from Thursday morning, the prohibition of heating with “pleasure” wood and other measures aimed at limiting the emission of fine particles.
Pollution episode in the Grand Est
In the Grand Est, the prefectures of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin, Moselle, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse and Marne announced similar measures for Thursday.
“The Grand Est region has been facing an episode of fine particle pollution since February 22. These particles come both from the Sahara, combustion, and agricultural spraying,” explained Atmo Grand Est, the agency which monitors air quality in the region.
As a result, “the air quality index will be degraded overall to bad for PM10 particles”, adds Atmo Grand Est.
Disturbing concentrations in Corsica
In Corsica, forecasts for February 24 and 25 show a “stagnation of concentrations of fine particles in the territory which could once again lead to the first threshold being exceeded”.
During this type of phenomenon, in particular in the event of respiratory or cardiac discomfort, it is recommended to limit the emissions of automobile, industrial, artisanal and domestic origin, to privilege the brief exits, to reduce the intense physical and sporting activities.
Qualitair Corse recommends that the public seek advice from their doctor to find out whether medical treatment should be adapted if necessary. At the beginning of February, a similar phenomenon had already colored the atmosphere of much of southern and eastern France with yellow, and caused a spike in air pollution.