Italian Legislation

Law N. 615 of July 13, 1966, “Measures against Environmental Pollution” is the first Italian systematic law on environmental pollution and defines fresh air as a public good that needs to be protected through restrictions. The latter was replaced by Decree N. 203 of May 24, 1988 of the President of the Republic (DPR) meeting four European guidelines on air quality and pollution.
The subsequent 203/88 Presidential Decree laid the real foundation for Italian legislation until the implementation in 1999 of the European Framework Directive on “Ambient Air Quality Monitoring and Management”. This D.P.R. introduces the principle of environmental preservation and human health safeguard, which was lacking in previous legislation. Moreover, it clearly defines the characteristics of environmental pollution as “every change to the structure or composition of the atmosphere caused by the presence of one or more substances in a quantity able to affect normal environmental conditions and air quality; which can pose a direct or indirect risk to human health; which can jeopardize recreational activities and other legitimate activities within this given environment; which negatively affect biological resources, ecosystems, public and private goods”. As it also sets air quality limit values and guideline values and adopts the Anglo-saxon principle on the use of the best available technology (BAT) to prevent pollution.
The 96/62/CE European Directive issued in 1996 aims to create a common strategy to evaluate and manage air quality and define air quality standards to prevent or reduce the negative impact of pollutants on human health and the environment. The latter is a Framework Directive as it governs general and common policies for all Member States on air monitoring and management. Several subsequent ‘daughter’ directives were also adopted establishing air quality limit values and standard measurement criteria for specific pollutants. In Italy, Legislative Decree N. 351 “Implementation of the 96/62/CE Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Environment Monitoring and Management” passed August 4, 1999 transposed this Framework Directive. Legislative Decree 351/99 allocates responsibilities between the State and the Regions. Regions must implement air quality monitoring, action plans (in areas exceeding air quality standards) and protection programmes (in areas with very low levels of pollution), whilst the State must establish limit values and quality goals introducing an integrated strategy within national territory. Several other laws comply with 96/62/CE daughter directives, as:

  • Ministerial Decree N. 60 of April 2, 2002 of the Ministry for the Environment and Protection of the Land, implementing the first daughter directive which sets limit values for NOx, SO2, Pb and PM10; and implementing the second daughter directive which relates to benzene and carbon monoxide;
  • Ministerial Decree N. 183 of May 21, 2004 implementing the third daughter directive on ozone levels;
  • Ministerial Decree N. 152 of August 3, 2007 implementing the fourth daughter directive which targets a list of pollutants posing a risk to human health (as cadmium, mercury, nickel, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

Finally, Legislative Decree N. 155 of August 13, 2010 enforces “Directive 2008/50/CE on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe”. This Directive revises and combines separate existing pieces of legislation and sets a common legislative framework on ambient air quality monitoring and management.

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