Pollution in Milan, the third worst city in the world, why

THEskyrocketing pollution in the Po Valley where, in recent days, the limits for safeguarding people’s health have all been exceeded. Sunday Milan’s air quality was the third worst in the world: the Lombardy capital was preceded only by Lahore in Pakistan and Dacca in Bangladesh. To be precise, the concentration of fine particles on Sunday was more than 27 times higher than the annual air quality guideline indicated by the World Health Organization.

Pollution, Greenpeace finds harmful substances in the Sibillini Mountains

Pollution in Milan is among the worst in the world

These truly worrying data come from IQAir site that bases its calculations on the American AQI standard, the Air Quality Index. It is a Swiss air quality technology company that produces monitoring products and purifiers to clean the air. A reliable source? For some, like the mayor of Milan, Beppe Sala, no: «These are the usual extemporaneous analyzes managed by a private body», he replied to journalists who questioned him about the ranking position of the city he manages.

It is true that IQAir nIt is not a third-party, institutional body, as are the others Regional agencies for environmental protection (ARPA). Furthermore, the ranking is updated every day, and varies greatly, proving that the measurements are not exactly weighted.

Unfortunately, however, even if we don’t listen to IQAir and we don’t consider Milan the third most polluted city in the world, the problem remains.

The monitoring and the results are terrible

Even other bodies, in fact, such as the French Prev’Air, the European Copernicus and the ARPA, the regional environmental protection agencies, agree that the air quality in the Italian plain is not satisfactory.

Do we rely on Arpa Lombardia? The agency, on Sunday 18 February, was also monitoring the city center and indicated everywhere PM10 values ​​which exceeded the level imposed by the EU by almost three times. A less shocking figure than the values ​​of the Swiss site, but still worrying.

Pollution data in Milan is worrying (Getty Images)

The three specific causes of pollution in Milan and the Piadana Plain

Having said that, understanding the causes is very important to try to do something, where possible. According to theEuropean Union Environment Agencythere are three reasons for the pollution in the area.

The first, on which there is not much to do, depends on the position in which the Po Valley is located. Closed by mountains on three sides, it has little ventilation. Land low rainfall and above-average seasonal heat in recent weeks have prevented atmospheric renewal.

Location, transport, heating, agriculture

Besides and together with this, there are the polluting emissions from the transport sector which, in a high-density area like the Po Valley, have a significant impact.

And yet, second a research of the Greenpeace Italia investigative unit in collaboration with ISPRA, 54% of the fine particles breathed in Lombardy depend on domestic heating and intensive farming.

Primary and secondary pollutants in the Po Valley

It’s worth clarifying that there are not only primary pollutants, breathed in where and when they are emitted. Where there is atmospheric stability, as in the Po Valley, part of the particulate matter is also made up of the so-called secondary pollutants. Those which are formed following chemical and physical reactions. In other words, if the air is not renewed, the gases have time to transform. And what is emitted in gaseous form, such as ammonia produced in agriculture (NH3), is transformed, even within weeks, and we find it in particulate matter in the form of nitrates.

Also the “Mal’Aria” report by Legambiente, published at the beginning of February, highlights how many Italian cities are still behind in the fight against air pollution with, in the past year, 18 cities out of 98 exceeding the permitted daily threshold. In short, the problem exists and must be addressed, without panic but methodically. If science remains the main ally in finding solutions, we must put them into practice.