Air Quality in Mestre is Worse Than Shanghai

Particulates in the air are at record highs, worse than Paris, London, Brussels, Luxembourg, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, but so far there are no restrictions on vehicle traffic

4 January 2023

By Maria Ducoli

Mestre’s air is more polluted than Shanghai. The only city worse is Treviso. The air people breathe in Mestre is among the worst not only in Veneto, but in Europe. ARPAV, the regional environment agency has released data that show a very discouraging scenario.

The quantity of particulate matter (also called PM10) – a group of polluting substances made up of dust, smoke, micro-drops and other liquid substances – present in Mestre’s atmosphere has been recorded at around 69 micrograms per cubic meter. The daily limit called for by law is 50 micrograms.

In insular Venice that threshold is being met, just barely, with particulate levels of 49 mcg per m3. Negative air quality data were also recorded for Verona (54), Vicenza (61) and Padova (53). Only Treviso is worse than Mestre, with particulate levels equal to 91 micrograms per m3. More breathable air can instead be found in Polesine (34) and around Belluno (29).

In recent days the Municipality of Venice has already confirmed an orange alert for particulate levels, which is invoked when the legal limits are exceeded for four consecutive days.

The Municipality immediately banned private fires. However, there has been no restriction on vehicle traffic.

Exceeding the legal limits of particulate levels has been a considerable problem in Mestre in the last few years. In 2021 the limit was exceeded 49 times, while that number grew to 53 in 2022. The law does not permit more than 35 per year. Thus the emergency is growing, and beginning 2023 with an orange alert certainly does not bode well.

The picture is worse in around Padova and in Rovigo, both in the red zone for having exceeded the maximum limit for more than 10 consecutive days. Padova registers lower levels of PM10 than Venice, but exceeding the legal threshold seems to be a constant that won’t diminish.

The sky-high atmospheric pollution here has also been immortalized by photographs flooding social media recently. A blanket of smog separates the rooftops of Mestre from the sky, with not even a hint of stars at night behind the grey mantle.

“A happy new year will only be one that sees a growth in awareness of what is happening and of protest, action and meaningful proposals” writes Gianfranco Bettin, city councilor for the Verdi. The first thing that requires awareness concerns the situation in Mestre and the surrounding areas, which is worse than most other European cities, and not only.

Data provided by Air Pollution Alert – a site that displays the pollution levels in various countries around the world – speaks clearly: Paris, London, Brussels, Luxembourg, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai all register lower levels of particulate air pollution than Metropolitan Venice. While it’s long been said that there are no other cities like Venice, it seems that now also applies to air pollution – it’s hard to find a more polluted city.

Bad air translates into physical illness. In fact, particulate matter is particularly damaging to health because when it deposits in the body it can lead not only to respiratory disturbances like coughing and asthma, but also to acute respiratory inflammation and changes to cardiovascular system functioning.

Why is the air so polluted? There are a number of reasons, the number one cause being emissions from civil and industrial heating facilities. The next on the list is of course vehicle emissions. Furthermore, the morphology of the Po Valley also has an effect, being a basin with poor air flow. The recent weather has also worsened the situation, and no precipitation is forecast until at least Sunday, January 8. A new ARPAV bulletin is expected January 4.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre

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