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Police officers control vehicles along the Seine river in Paris, Monday, March 17, 2014. Cars with even-numbered license plates are prohibited from driving in Paris and its suburbs Monday to combat the worst air pollution in years. / Michel Euler, AP

PARIS (AP) - Paris imposed drastic measures Monday to combat its worst air pollution in years, banning around half the city's cars and trucks from its streets for a day in an attempt to reduce the toxic smog that's shrouded the City of Light for more than a week.

Cars with even-numbered license plates were prohibited from driving in Paris and its suburbs. Around 700 police staffed 179 control points, handing out tickets to offenders. Taxis and commercial vehicles weren't covered by the ban.

Police had ticketed nearly 4,000 people by midday, and 27 drivers had their cars impounded for refusing to cooperate with officers.

France has seen exceptionally warm, dry weather this month with little wind, which has trapped car pollution and fumes from seasonal farming activity. France's unusually high number of diesel vehicles is also contributing to the smog.

Environment Minister Philippe Martin said lower traffic and favorable weather patterns were having an effect on pollution Monday. He said the alternate-plates measure would be lifted Tuesday.

It was the first time since 1997 that the step was taken.

All public transport has been free for four days to get people out of their cars. That too is set to end Tuesday.

Paris' anti-pollution efforts trail behind those of some other cities.

Athens has had a similar alternate driving ban in place for many years that has reduced pollution and traffic. In Brazil, Sao Paulo employs a complicated license plate-based system that assigns each car a day of the week when it cannot be driven during rush hours.

Berlin has strict rules on what kind of cars may enter the city. London makes drivers pay a "congestion charge" to drive in the center of town.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the original story: Toxic smog in Paris brings drastic measures

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