Are Italy’s drinking fountains safe?

A study published by Italian consumers Altroconsumo this week would suggest not.

Are Italy's drinking fountains safe?
Toxic? A drinking fountain in Italy. Photo: Sergio de Ferra

The study analyzed the drinking water from public fountains across 35 cities in Italy and found that in two cities the water was contaminated.

The study checked samples of drinking water by measuring for things like hardness, calcium, sulphur, fluoride, heavy metals and traces of pollutants.

The study found that samples from two of Italy's largest cities, Genoa and Florence contained dangerous levels of lead. The samples were taken from fountains in Piazza Colombo in Genoa and Piazza della Signora in Florence.

Current laws limit safe levels of lead in drinking water at 10 micrograms per litre, however the samples taken from Genoa were three almost times over the limit (24,8 μg/l ). Alarmingly, samples taken from Florence were more than five times over the set threshold (56,6 μg/l).

Altroconsumo expressed their concern about the potentially dangerous water that is available in what are heavily trafficked areas of two of Italy's biggest cities.

In a letter sent to the local health authority of Florence, the consumer group stated: “the contaminated water is available to thousands of tourists who pass through Piazza della Signora each day,” Il Fatto Alimentare reported.

Actute lead poisoning occurs when blood contains a level of lead higher than (10 μg/l) micrograms per litre for an adult and (5 μg/l) for children. Symptoms vary depending on the individual and level of exposure but include muscle weakness, abdominal pain, constipation and nausea.

High levels of lead in the blood over an extended period can cause chronic lead poisoning which can cause seizures, coma and even death.

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?