1971: Paris Installs Giant Air Filters to Combat Pollution

Credit…International Herald Tribune

PARIS, Oct. 19 (NYT). — Two mysterious towers were set up today in the grimy Gare de Lyon area of eastern Paris and one schoolboy was overheard asking: “Are they for launching rockets to the moon?”

The answer is no. They are giant air filters, to be tested as a means of combating air pollution here.

The towers, 16 and a half feet high and with a diameter of about five feet, are basically oversized vacuum cleaners with a filter in the middle. Through four apertures at the base, the air is aspirated by an electric fan and sucked through several filters to the top, and out again, minus the pollution. Or so it is hoped.

The “Aspirateurs Géants,” as they have been tentatively dubbed, were commissioned by Electricité de France, the state electricity monopoly, and produced by Bertin et Compagnie, makers of the Aérotrain.

They will process 557,000 cubic feet of air per day, and retain in their filters 80 pounds of polluting agents a year.

Today, workmen were still busy connecting electric wires with the structures. It was hoped they would be ready to function by Friday. Will they be noisy? A technician replied: on verra — we’ll see.

Results will be tested for several months. If they are conclusive, an undisclosed number of the air filters will be erected elsewhere in Paris.

The timing of the experiment roughly coincides with an alarming increase in air pollution here last week. Because of a subway workers’ strike, many more cars were on the roads than normal.

— The International Herald Tribune, Oct. 20, 1971

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