Pollution: the sad record of Brescia and Bergamo

Pollution: the sad record of Brescia and Bergamo

In the Po Valley, pollution is a health threat that can no longer be ignored. Just think of Brescia and Bergamo, in first place in Europe for mortality from Pm2.5.


Pm2.5, an Italian emergency

What air are you breathing in your city? The IS Global Ranking website welcomes us with this question, as simple as it is conclusive .

Unfortunately, the answer will not please our fellow countrymen, especially those who live in the Po Valley : Brescia and Bergamo are at the top of the ranking for  mortality due to exposure to Pm2.5 , that is to the atmospheric particulate so thin that it insinuates itself in the bronchi and in the pulmonary alveoli.

The list includes 858 cities across Europe, but the Italian ones immediately catch the eye. The two Lombard centers are the only ones with an annual average concentration of Pm2.5 which exceeds the limit of 25 µg / m³ imposed by law to protect human health.  

To be precise, Brescia stands at 27.5 µg / m³, Bergamo at 26.1 µg / m³. If the levels of fine particles were reduced to the levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), 232 and 137 deaths could be avoided, respectively. 

Scrolling the top of the ranking we also find Vicenza (in fourth position), Saronno (province of Varese, 8th position), Verona (11th), Milan, Treviso and Padua (13th, 14th and 15th), Como, Cremona and Busto Arsizio ( 17th, 18th and 19th).  

Nitrogen dioxide, the silent killer

The data are reliable because they come from a solid scientific project , which involves professors from the universities of Barcelona, ​​Basel, Utrecht and Colorado. The results of their surveys are at the center of a paper published by the authoritative medical journal The Lancet .  

Unfortunately, it is not only the Pm2.5 that is poisoning our lungs, generated above all by the heating of houses, by vehicular traffic, by the fumes of industries and more generally by combustion processes. Equally harmful is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) , mainly due to means of transport, especially if powered by diesel. 

At the top of the ranking for NO2 mortality is Madrid , followed by Antwerp . On the third step of this unenviable podium we come across the Italian Turin , followed by Milan (5th) and, again, Brescia (19th).

Legambiente rejects the cities of the Po Valley

These considerations are paired with those expressed by Legambiente in the 2021 edition of the Mal’aria di Città report . Out of a total of 96 provincial capitals examined, as many as 35 recorded (at least from one control unit) concentrations of PM10 above the legal limits for at least 35 days in the calendar year. 

Once again, the black jersey belongs to the cities of the Po Valley, starting with Turin (98 days beyond the safety threshold), Venice, Padua, Rovigo, Treviso, Milan. 

“ The pandemic underway must not let us let our guard down on the issue of air pollution. Indeed, it is an additional stimulus, starting from the ongoing discussion on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, so that the economic resources arriving from Europe are not wasted ”, comments Giorgio Zampetti , general manager of Legambiente.

Adequate resources are needed for ” sustainable and safe urban mobility with a zero vision, also for redeveloping urban roads and cities”, he underlines. “It is urgent to proceed with preventive measures and effective, structured and lasting actions, for clean and more liveable cities after the pandemic”.

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