New smog restrictions could apply in February

The city wants to limit traffic when air pollution reaches high levels

The Legislative Committee Prague City Hall recently discussed a draft of measure to reduce traffic during a smog situation. In the most serious smog situation, trucks over six tons would not be allowed to drive in the city. Cars would be divided based on odd and even licenses and allowed to drive in the city on matching calendar days.

The change could apply from February next year. Similar measures are used in other European cities such as Paris.

The proposal was sent to the district authorities and other institutions earlier this month. If approved, the rule could be valid from February.

The proposal was based on a study by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ), but it was modified to make it more practical.

“A sensible option in terms of environmental impacts is even / odd licenses and a prohibition of trucks over six tons,” Ondřej Vlček from the ČHMÚ air pollution protection department told broadcaster ČT24 in October.

The city exempted the Prague Ringroad. The time that the ban would take effect was also changed to make it clear that it applies from when the city makes an announcement, and not from when a smog situation is declared. Compliance with regulations will be controlled by the police.

The proposal is currently being evaluated by district councils and city departments. Institutions such as the police and the Central Bohemia region are also expected to comment on the draft.

The largest cause of air pollution in Prague is vehicle transport. The latest valid regulations are from 2012 and mainly address the exhaust fumes.

The risk of smog is greatest during the cold months. Last winter, meteorologists declared a smog situation in Prague three times.

A smog situation is declared when airborne particles of a size designated as PM10 exceed the limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter for 12 hours and are not expected to drop below that threshold for 24 hours.

The regulation limiting some industry takes effect if at least half of the stations in a region over 12 hours show average concentrations of airborne particles exceeding a limit of 150 micrograms per cubic meter, and the situation is not expected to change for 24 hours.

A smog situation can be caused by cold temperatures, inversion and lack of wind. A temperature inversion is an increase in temperature with height, which creates an inversion layer. An inversion can lead to pollution being trapped close to the ground.

Numerous health problems have been linked to smog, It can be especially harmful for senior citizens, children, and people with heart and lung conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.

In the past, the city tried voluntary measures and encouraged people to use public transportation, but these moves had a negligible effect.

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