The news came as several northern cities imposed traffic blocks in an effort to combat air pollution. The environmental councillor in Pavia, a university town in Lombardy, advised residents to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid using cars.
In Turin and Rome, where safe limits for fine particles have been exceeded for several consecutive days, authorities have imposed traffic blocks on the most polluting vehicles.
In the capital, the most polluted areas included Via Tiburtina and Via Praenestina – both narrow streets lined by tall buildings – and the busy Corso Francia.
But the Villa Ada park, the city's second largest green space, also showed worrying levels of fine particles. According to Legambiente's regional president, Roberto Scacchi, the fact that smog had reached even open spaces showed “the situation is serious, and the smog is everywhere”.
In Rome, cars account for 70 percent of the smog, while only 30 percent of the problem is down to heating or heavy industry. Traffic blocks, applying to scooters and motorbikes as well as cars, were in place from Wednesday, affecting the most polluting vehicles (if you're in Rome, check the city hall's website for the latest restrictions).
Scacchi argued that the restrictions should be more extensive, however, and called for more traffic lanes and improvements to be made to improve public transport in order to tackle the pollution problem long-term.
The smog is worsened by the fact that northern Italy hasn't seen any significant rainfall in over two months, and while meteorogists have forecast rain by the middle of the week, which should provide temporary relief, Scacchi said more permanent measures were needed. “You can't just do a rain dance, waiting for it to come and wash away pollution,” he warned.
Environmental activists presented the report at the regional offices of Emilia Romagna, along with the association's proposals to combat smog. Some carried banners reading 'Our lungs are breaking! No to smog'.
Photo: Marcin Monko/Flickr