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Emergency Measures, Breezes Help Reduce Smog

May 7, 1988

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The government on Saturday banned half of the city’s taxis and cars from the Athens area in an emergency move to improve air quality.

Athens has been covered by a thick brown haze for three days.

Aided by strong northerly breezes, the measures seemed to be working.

″There has been a significant reduction in atmospheric pollution because of the measures and improved weather conditions,″ said Constantine Bourkas, director of the state-run Program for Pollution Control.

Bourkas said the wind, coming after two days of calm weather, blew some of the pollution out of the mountain-ringed Athens basin.

A brown smog hangs over Athens most of the year. It is formed when a strip of cold air moves on top of a strip of warm air and traps it over the city.

The measures banned half of the city’s 730,000 automobiles and 15,000 taxis from a 115-square-mile zone around the city center. Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers were allowed in the area.

They also ordered the city’s 120 largest industries to reduce output by 30 percent.

The traffic measures lasted only until Saturday afternoon, while the industrial restriction was ordered to last until 6 a.m. Sunday.

The city’s automobiles, diesel-powered taxis and aging buses are mainly responsible for the pollution.

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