|3||Santa Cristina, Lombardy|
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|1||Savignano sul Rubicone, Emilia-Romagna|
|5||Santa Maria Codifiume, Emilia-Romagna|
|8||Renon - Ritten, Trentino-Alto Adige|
|9||Santa Giusta, Sardinia|
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Italy is officially known as the Italian Republic and is located in south-central Europe, butconsidered to be in Western Europe. It covers an area of 301,340 squarekilometres and had a population of over 60 million in 2020. As such it isconsidered to be the third most populous state in the European Union.
During 2019, according to figures published by IQAir.com, the average level of air pollution in Italy was 61 USAQI which placed it in the “Moderate “class and ranked it in position 59 out ofa total of 98 countries. The concentration of the pollutant PM2.5 was 17.09 µg/m³in 2019 and 14.95 µg/m³ the year earlier. This “Moderate” classificationfollows the figures suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
After a phase of rapid industrial growth, Italy took a long time before it began to come toterms with the effects caused by such a surge in industrial activity. Airpollution, however, remains a problem especially in the north where a lot ofheavy industries are situated. During the 1990s Italy held the tenth positionas the country which produced the most carbon dioxide (CO2). Heavy traffic and congestion in the largemetropolitan areas continue to be a main source of pollution even though smoglevels have fallen since the 70s and 80s. Two of the larger northern citiessuch as Milan and Turin have some of the worst air pollution in all of Europeand in December 2017 introduced traffic restrictions in order to try to improvethe quality of the air. As early as 2011, officials realised that pollution, ingeneral, was reaching critical levels and that the problem needed addressing.
In 2018 air quality levels were reaching a “red” alert status. It is the sharp rise in theconcentrations of the microscopic particulate matter PM2.5 which is mosttroublesome as it causes most breathing and heart problems and is attributedwith over 9 per cent of deaths of Italians over the age of 30 years.
The EU's long-term goal is to achieve levels of air quality that do not lead to unacceptable consequencesor risks to human health or the environment. The EU tackles the problem indifferent ways to reduce exposure to air pollution: through legislation,cooperation with sectors responsible for air pollution as well as withinternational, national and regional authorities and through research. EUpolicies aim to reduce exposure to air pollution by reducing emissions andsetting limits and attainable targets for air quality. At the end of 2013, theEuropean Commission adopted a proposal for a “Clean Air” package, which included new measures to reduce air pollution.
Logistics has a devastating impact on air quality. Another solution is to make transportationgreener, especially for the delivery because air pollution is an unintendedconsequence of the increase in online shopping, but zero-emission vehicles wouldbe an answer to the problem. Most deliveries are made by diesel trucks whichpump dangerous air pollutants into the air we breathe and the public notices.While more action is needed, we are seeing some encouraging moves in terms ofreal change and some companies are actually investing in solutions. Deliverycompanies need to invest in electric vehicles for delivery.
In the field of air pollution, there are electric motorcycles, a solar-powered shuttle and soapderived from vegetable matter. There is also a ground-level air purificationsystem developed in Italy, Air Pollution Abatement (Apa), which controls airquality in industrial sites, workplaces, urban spaces, commercial andresidential areas. Apa works as an intelligent multiservice platform thatintegrates intelligent environmental sensor monitoring system, Wifi, IoT, Ai solutions and provides cloud-based real-time data.
It is necessary to encourage the use of electric, hybrid and gas (LPG) cars and to take measuresto disadvantage or regulate the circulation of petrol and diesel cars. Thecurrent rules and policies on the standards to be refined to combat airpollution must be improved and must also pursue medium and long-term objectives.
Air pollution occurs when any harmful gas, dust or smoke enters the atmosphere and makes itdifficult for plants, animals and humans to survive as the air has becometoxic. Most air pollution results from burning fossil fuels such as coal andnatural gas to produce energy. Biomass combustion for heating, emissions fromhazardous pollutants from industries and factories as well as from incineratorsand refineries and various agricultural activities all can contribute to poor air quality.
Even with an annual reduction of highly polluting cars and total emissions, private urban roadtransport remains one of the main sources of pollution, also due to theincentives for dieselisation. Almost two-thirds of people travel over distancesup to 10 km, the average size of an urban centre in Italy, while more than 9out of 10 people travel over distances of less than 50 km.
The result of this is that road transport causes 16 per cent of total emissions of PM2.5, 66 percent of nitrogen oxide (NO) emissions, 18 per cent of sulphur oxides (SO) and 20per cent of NMVOCs (mainly benzene).
Traditional technologies (wood-burning fireplaces and stoves) are responsible for themajority of particulate emissions in the sector, compared to 9 per cent ofemissions attributable to the most advanced technologies such as pellet stoves,closed fireplaces and self-refilling stoves. Out of the total pollutingemissions in the city, the domestic heating sector produces 68 per cent of all PM2.5 that our lungs breathe.
Contrary to what one might think, the industrial sector in Italy is the one that over the years hasmost significantly reduced the production and emission of pollutants into the atmosphere.
A positive, continuous trend due to macroeconomic factors (relocation, closure of old factories,automation), to stricter regulations but also to green choices made by thesector with a view to energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and, why not, savings.
Unfortunately in some sectors, such as the steel industry, chemicals and energy production, thechange is more onerous: for this reason, there are urban areas throughout Italythat still experience the drama of precarious health.
Contrary to what one might expect, the use of wood biomass for heating is what causes such a massivepresence of particulates in the air. National guidelines must therefore beadopted on the use of biomass for domestic heating and the technology to beadopted, favouring the spread of high efficiency and low (or zero) emissions technologies.
In Italy, PM2.5 has gone from an average of 19.3 µg/m³ to 19.4 µg/m³ in recent years, and more and moreregions are experiencing very high levels of pollution. The air quality indexmonitoring site map, which conveys the air quality values published andvalidated by the Regional Agencies for Environmental Protection (ARPA), showsvery bad levels in urban areas such as those of Milan, Turin, Genoa, Perugia, Spoleto, Rieti and Rome.
The future could possibly lie in sharing mobility services such as bike-sharing andcarpooling are now a reality in many cities thanks to the evolution of IT and connection.
The promotion of alternative mobility modes can greatly reduce the harmful effectsof air pollution. Many cities are trying to rely less on cars as a means oftransportation and make the cities more accessible for bicycles by introducingnew cycle paths and invest in more public transportation, especially electric vehicles.
The goal is to reduce the number of cars to less than 500 per thousand inhabitants.By changing our model of trips in the city, it will not be based on self-owned,but on sharing mobility services, understood both as a traditional public transport service, as well as bike-sharing.
Carbon monoxide (CO) and lead (Pb) suspended in the air can contribute to ill effectsfor tourists. Headaches and breathing problems are common after a day ofsightseeing if you're prone to pollution-related sickness or have pre-existing respiratory problems.
The main air pollutants include particulate matter, followed by carbon (C), sulphuroxides (SO), nitrogen oxides (NO), ammonia (NH3), carbon monoxide(CO) and methane (CH4). One of the indicators used by the EuropeanEnvironment Agency measures the concentration of particulate matter in urban areas.The agency considers large particulates (PM10 or <10 µg/m³) thatcan be transported deep into the lungs, where they can cause inflammation orexacerbate the conditions of people suffering from pre-existing heart andrespiratory diseases. Among these, the sub-category of fine particulates (PM2.5or <2.5 µg/m³) are those whose harmful effects on health are even moreserious as they can be drawn more deeply into the lungs and can therefore bemore toxic.
According to the World Health Organisation, exposure to air pollution causes 4.2 milliondeaths worldwide, and cause at least 600,000 children to suffer from acuterespiratory infections, caused by toxic air. There are nearly 500,000 prematuredeaths in Europe every year. Exposure to carcinogenic particulate matter,nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ground-level ozone (O3) costthe lives of 76,200 people in Italy in just one year, reveals the EuropeanEnvironment Agency.
Air pollution, which generally is identified as "smog" is a growingproblem, which causes damage to human health, even causing dangerous diseases.Technology and research have been mobilized for some time and today there aremore and more interesting and effective solutions, even in the architectural field.
Before talking about some smog-eating products used in architecture, it is advisableto mention the vegetation, an excellent solution to be completely integratedwith the building that houses it. Green roofs and facades contribute in anatural way to the reduction of air pollution. The “Bosco Verticale” in Milan,designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, is the first example of an urban verticalforest, with about 21,000 plants that absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.
In 2014 a particular type of photocatalytic cement was created which is, in fact, asmog eater. The material, invented by Luigi Cassar and called Tx Active, thanksto the photocatalysis process manages to reduce the quantity of nitrogen oxide (NO) present in the air.
Biodynamic cement is made up mostly of recycled materials and the laying of 1,000 squaremeters of the product corresponds to the planting of 80 trees or - alternatively - to eliminate the pollution produced by 30 vehicles.
The first hypotheses and ideas on the possibility of making paints and paints thatare friendly to the fight against atmospheric pollution date back to about tenyears ago and today, finally, this type of product is mature and used indifferent countries, even in a very original and interesting way.
In Rome, the largest mural in Europe with smog-eating paint was recently created,1000 square meters corresponding to the effects produced by 30 trees. Theartist is Italian and under the pseudonym of Lena Cruz has already done similarworks in other cities, such as New York. This smog-eating paint, an all-Italianinvention called Airlite, is exposed to sunlight and is able to eliminatevarious pollutants that are dangerous for the environment and for humans, suchas nitrogen (N) and sulphur oxides (SO) even more than 50 per cent of theirconcentration. In addition to the reduction of pollutants, the dust andbacteria present on the treated surface are eliminated, thanks to surfaceoxidation and its alkalinity. In essence, a real protective film is created for the building.
The choice of the roof covering depends on factors such as climate, aesthetics orthe functions it must perform. Among the functions recently it was thought toadd that of reducing air pollution. There are several studies and innovationsin this field, which have led to the diffusion of particular coatings to beapplied to the tiles, whose task is to transform polluting components such asnitrogen oxides into inorganic salts, thanks to photocatalysis. The tileremains exactly as we know it, but a catalyst is applied to the surface: titanium dioxide.
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