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Madrid to cut traffic volumes in half as pollution rises

Staff Writer |
Madrid said all privately-owned cars with even-numbered registration plates will be banned from the Spanish capital's roads on Thursday to curb rising air pollution.

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The move follows a dry, sunny stretch of weather which sent levels of nitrogen oxide, a poisonous gas which can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, soaring above European-Union-set limits.

The restriction could alternate between odd and even number plates for as long as high levels of contamination persist, the city government said. Applicable restrictions for Friday will be announced by midday on Thursday.

"Every day, the city pumps out a great deal of emissions in to the atmosphere, but it blows away... the current thermal pressure is impeding that ventilation," environment head for the city council, Paz Valiente, said.

On Wednesday, the city placed a temporary ban on parking in the centre by non-resident car owners and restricted speed limits on the Madrid's main circular road to 70 kmh (43 mph) from 90 kmh to reduce exhaust emissions.

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