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REVEALED: The most polluted towns in Italy in 2024

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected]
REVEALED: The most polluted towns in Italy in 2024
A new report from an environmental watchdog ranks Italy's most polluted cities. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP.

Frosinone in the central-southern region of Lazio has been named Italy's 'smog capital' in a new pollution report, with the northern city of Turin coming in second place.

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The environmental watchdog Legambiente urged the government to take action in its Mal’aria di città (Air pollution in the city) report for 2024, which warns about the health risks posed by pollution in many parts of the country.

It found that 18 of 98 cities monitored had violated clean air ordinances by exceeding daily fine particle (PM10) emission limits, which are currently set at no more than 35 days a year with a daily average of over 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Frosinone was ranked as the worst offender, exceeding this level on 70 days, closely followed by Turin (66), Treviso (63), and Mantua, Padua and Venice (62).

These were followed by Rovigo, Verona and Vicenza, all of which exceeded limits to a lesser degree.

Milan, which last year came in second at 84 days - and in recent days has been the subject of debate over just how bad its air quality really is - slid down to tenth place with 45 days.

Apart from Frosinone, all of the most polluted cities were in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Veneto, and Lombardy, with many in and around the north-western ‘industrial triangle’.

READ ALSO: Why is air pollution in northern Italy so bad?

Just one other southern city (Naples, the capital of the Campania region) appeared towards the bottom of the ranking, exceeding the limit by one day.

Legambiente noted that that figures recorded for 2023 showed a marked improvement on those gathered for 2022.

A man wears a protective mask as he rides his bicycle downtown Milan. Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP.

However the watchdog said this was "unfortunately attributable almost exclusively to the favourable weather conditions that characterised the winter months of the first half of 2023 and the fall period of the year just ended".

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"Better for the lungs of citizens who every day are forced to breathe air with concentrations of pollutants harmful to health, less good for the real effectiveness of the actions introduced by the national government, regions and municipalities over the years to deal with this chronic emergency," it said.

The report added that while the European Commission in 2022 published a proposal to bring its air quality directives closer in line with World Health Organisation recommendations, Italy's government has repeatedly tried to delay and water down the targets.

An estimated 47,000 premature deaths were caused in Italy in 2021 due to high PM2.5 pollution levels, Legambiente said: "an intolerable number of deaths that is repeated year after year."

The organisation is currently rolling out its Città2030 campaign, travelling to 18 of the country's 20 regional capitals between February 8th and March 6th to raise awareness of the incoming European Directive on air quality, expected to come into force by 2030.

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