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on the environment

Italy

Air pollution (Italy)

Why should we care about this issue

Topic
Air pollution Air pollution
more info
ISPRA
Organisation name
ISPRA
Reporting country
Italy
Organisation website
Organisation website
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Last updated
03 Jan 2011
Content license
CC By 2.5
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ISPRA
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy
Commonality (June, 1st 2010)
Care

Air quality represents one of the environmental emergencies that, together with climate change, to which it is closely connected, involves all citizens on a daily basis and is of most concern to administrators of local and central governments. This emergency affects not only Italy, but all the countries of Europe, and especially large urban areas, where the percentage of the population exposed to levels that exceed the limit values set under legislative and regulatory measures is highest. High air pollution causes health problems, reduced agricultural crop yields, changes in ecosystem function and species composition, and damage to buildings and materials. The pollutants most responsible for poor air quality are atmospheric particulate PM10, tropospheric ozone and nitrogen dioxide.

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy Commonality (June, 1st 2010) State and Impact

Figures

Figura 2

Summer O3 \u2013 Monitoring stations by categories of days in exceedance of long-term objectives for the protection of human health (120 \uf06dg/m3) (2008)
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/air-pollution/eoi-data-processed-by-ispra-decision-97-101-ec
Figura 2
Fullscreen image Original link

Figure 1

PM10 \u2013 Monitoring stations by categories of days over daily limit value (2007)
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/air-pollution/eoi-data-processed-by-ispra-decision-97-101-ec
Figure 1
Fullscreen image Original link

Figura 3

NO2 \u2013 Monitoring stations by categories of average annual value (2007)
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/air-pollution/eoi-data-processed-by-ispra-decision-97-101-ec
Figura 3
Fullscreen image Original link

 

The most critical pollutants, given the high concentrations in the air, continue to be tropospheric ozone (O3) during the summer months, PM10 atmospheric particulate (particle material at a size of less than 10 millionths of a meter) especially in the winter months, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), despite the downward trend of emissions in recent years.

In 2007, 57 % of the stations registered exceedances of the daily limit value of PM10 on more than 35 days (Figure 1); the 35-day limit is often reached as early as the first half of February.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently estimated, based on a study carried out in the years 2002-2004 in Italy’s largest cities, that more than 8 000 deaths a year can be attributed to average concentrations of PM10 greater than 20 mg/m3.

The highest levels of ozone are registered during the summer season and in areas where the impact of traffic is not direct. The long-term objective for the protection of human health (120 mg/m3) was exceeded by the vast majority of the stations: during the summer period of 2008, only 11 % of the stations did not register exceedances of the long-term objective (Figure 2).

Ozone also has negative effects on human health, though to a lesser extent than PM10.  In the above mentioned study, WHO estimated that approximately 500 deaths a year can be attributed to this pollutant.

In the case of nitrogen dioxide, the annual limit value for the protection of human health (40 µg/m3), which shall enter into force in 2010, was met by 65 % of the stations in 2007 (Figure 3) (http://annuario.apat.it/capitoli/Ver_6/en/Air%20quality.pdf - Paragraph  ‘Air Quality’, pg 74).

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy
Commonality (June, 1st 2010)
Drivers and Pressure

The emission reductions of PM10 (30 %, and especially marked in the energy and industrial sectors), of nitrogen oxides (NOX 43 %) and of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC 41 %) registered between 1990 and 2006 (APAT Emissions Inventory) have led to a clear improvement in air quality, but do not resolve problems related to PM10, NOX and O3, thus confirming the complexity of the problem of air pollution, which calls not for emergency measures but long-term integrated initiatives.

In the case of PM10, with regard only to its primary component, the information provided by APAT in the National Emissions Inventory for 2006 shows that transport is the main source of pollution, accounting for 41 % of the total, of which approximately two-thirds is attributable to roadway transport; next comes industry (25 %), the residential sector (13 %) and agriculture (10 %).

In terms of the precursors of tropospheric ozone, the main source of nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) is transport which accounts for 65 %, with road transport representing more than two-thirds, industry is responsible for 15 %, the production of energy for 11 % and the residential sector for 9 %. As for volatile organic compounds, but solely with regard to the non-methane ones (NMVOC), transport is responsible for 39 %, while 42 % come from the use of solvents, and the rest from the industrial sector, the residential sector and other minor sectors. Emissions of both tropospheric ozone precursors and PM10 have fallen considerably in all the regions, with the magnitude of the decrease depending on the presence of large-scale industrial plants, for which stringent limits were introduced in the 1990s on smokestack emissions of SOx, NOx and PM10. In fact, emissions of these substances from industrial combustion and energy production plants have dropped significantly between 1990 and the present.

The points briefly illustrated indicate that transport, and especially by road, is one of the main causes of the high concentrations of PM10 and ozone in the air. This critical problem is especially acute in cities where the levels of population and transport density are highest. In urban settings, emissions from road transport account for more than 70 % of overall emissions of PM10, NOx and NMVOC. (http://annuario.apat.it/capitoli/Ver_6/en/Air%20quality.pdf - Paragraph ‘The main causes of air quality deterioration’, pg 88)

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy
Commonality (June, 1st 2010)
Response

Figures

Figure 4

PM10 \u2013 Number of monitoring stations with time coverage of more than 75 % and total number of stations
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/air-pollution/eoi-data-processed-by-ispra-decision-97-101-ec
Figure 4
Fullscreen image Original link

The number of measures undertaken by the Italian regions to restore air quality increased during the three-year period 2004-2006. In 2004, there were 284 measures throughout the national territory, with the number rising to 341 in 2005 and to 457 in 2006. The main sectors of intervention in which the additional measures identified by the regions fall are: mobility, domestic/commercial activities, industry, agriculture. Mobility is the sector most frequently involved and these measures are concentrated in the northern regions. The specific mobility initiatives include the following types of measures: promotion and dissemination of clean vehicles in transport (public, private, freight), reinforcement of local public transport (LPT), testing of exhaust emissions from motor vehicles, traffic restriction measures, regulation of urban freight distribution, definition of urban plans (traffic, mobility, transport), structural initiatives regarding mobility, initiatives for alternative mobility, and technological support for sustainable mobility. The measures most frequently taken were in favour of alternative mobility (17 %); regarding the public vehicle fleet (16 %) and the private vehicle fleet (15 %) and structural measures involving mobility (15 %). In terms of monitoring network quality and compliance with regulatory criteria, a process of updating and revision is currently under way. The number of stations utilised under the EoI continues to grow. Together with the number of stations, the number of datasets whose time coverage is in compliance has also increased, as it is shown in Figure 4 for PM10: all these developments point to an improvement in monitoring activities and communication of information on the local and national levels.

Authors: Anna Maria Caricchia, Cristina Frizza (ISPRA)

References

EEA, Air pollution in Europe 1990-2004, EEA Report, no. 2/2007

ISPRA, Key Topics –Italian Environmental Data Yearbook 2008. Roma, 2009. http://annuario.apat.it/

M. Martuzzi, F. Mitis, I. Iavarone, M. Serinelli “Impatto sanitario di PM10 e Ozono in 13 città italiane”, OMS, APAT, 2007

http://air-climate.eionet.europa.eu/databases/airbase/eoi_maps/index_html

 

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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