published on 25 January 2019 in air

Mal’aria 2019 Dossier

Smog alert in Italy: in 2018 the air quality in urban environments is once again one of the major critical issues. The year 2018 was a “code red” year for many major cities in the Italian peninsula, due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter and ozone. An accurate picture of the situation in Italian cities is given by “Mal’aria di città 2019”, the annual dossier on atmospheric and acoustic pollution in urban centres, drawn up by Legambiente.

In 2018, the daily limits envisaged for fine particulate matter and ozone (35 days for Pm10 and 25 for ozone) were exceeded in no less than 55 provincial capitals. In 24 of these 55 cities, the limit was exceeded for both parameters, with the direct consequence for their citizens of having to breathe polluted air for around 4 month per year. Due to the climate conditions and the geographical conformation of the Po basin, the worst results were recorded by cities in Northern Italy (see table). Last year was also marked by the referral of Italy to the European Court of Justice due to the air quality infringement procedures, which are likely to result in costly fines for Italy.

The Legambiente annual dossier indicates that, despite smog and traffic jams, Italians are unwilling to stop using private cars. In fact, there are now 38 million vehicles in circulation which are used for 65.3% of all travel. Italy is one of the European countries with the highest concentrations of motor vehicles (with an average of around 65 cars for every 100 inhabitants). Enormous numbers when compared to those of some European capitals: in Paris there are 36 cars for every 100 inhabitants, as in London and Berlin. In Barcelona there are 41, in Stockholm and Vienna 38.

As Giorgio Zampetti, Director General of Legambiente, explains “In our country, the lack of an effective anti-smog strategy and the fact that in recent years the emergency has been tackled in an uneven and impromptu fashion continues to have an enormous impact. The plans brought into effect in October 2018 in Northern Italy, with a partial ban on circulation of the vehicles causing the highest pollution, has had little or no effect.”

For more details:
ISPRA report on the quality of urban environments

With the sponsorship of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research
Eni S.p.A. - P.IVA 00905811006