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The Ballon Generali: a major tourist attraction and a way to raise awareness about air quality

Since the Ballon de Paris was set up in the André Citroën park (15th arrondissement) in 1999, more than a million people have already taken a ride in it. 
Since 2008 and for the first time ever, the balloon has been used to help raise awareness about air quality. 

In partnership with AIRPARIF® (an accredited air quality monitoring organization in France), the new Ballon de Paris changes color depending on the ambient air quality in Paris, from green (good) to orange (fair) to red (poor). This system includes a separate lighting system that indicates the air quality near traffic using the same color code.

 

An airborne laboratory to improve knowledge about air quality

A measuring device called the LOAC (Light Optimal Aerosol Counter) has been permanently installed on board the balloon.
This instrument of unprecedented precision was developed in collaboration with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). LOAC can both identify and count particulates in the air and focuses on the tiniest particles – i.e., ultrafine particles – that are smaller than 1 micrometer (PM1). 

The Observatoire Atmosphérique Generali or Ballon de Paris makes it possible for the laboratory to conduct this study in Paris seven days a week by constantly taking air samples around the city. 

In the ticket office at the foot of the balloon, visitors can see all data reported by the CNRS sensors in real-time on a flat-screen monitor (the level and type of ultrafine particles in the air) as well as a permanent exhibition on the main air pollutants and preventive actions to reduce the danger they pose. 

 

Since March 2018, the system was reinforced with new scientific instruments to:

  • study the ozone, a major atmospheric pollutant, in real time from the ground and up to 984 feet (300 meters) in the air.
  • test the LIDAR technology (a technique where a laser pulse is emitted and the time between this pulse and detection of the ray reflected by a particular object is measured – in this case, aerosols – which indicates how far away the object is). This technology is installed on the balloon and can be used to create a 3D map of fine particles across the Paris sky.

 

Flights authorized up to 984 feet / 300 meters! 

In the mornings when the weather is good, science flights are made at up to 984 feet (300 meters) of altitude to gather data about air quality at very different heights and to do more in-depth analyses.