We talk about peak pollution when certain substances are present in the air we breathe at levels that can be harmful to health and the environment. These substances are gases, in particular nitrogen dioxide, or microparticles or fine particles, which alter the normal composition of the air. They are sometimes produced by nature, because of a volcanic eruption for example, but more often by human activities: industry, fuel combustion, wood heating …
In built-up areas, when the weather is cold and there is no wind, fine particles do not disperse well. And if their concentration exceeds 80 micrograms per cubic meter, the authorities alert the population and measures can be put in place, such as alternating traffic or banning chimney fires. A series of recommendations are also issued, intended to protect the most vulnerable people.
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