Doctors at Milan’s Macedonio Melloni hospital in Italy are warning that the city’s high pollution is affecting hospital admissions, reported the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
An “Ecopass” scheme was introduced in the city in January, designed to reduce atmospheric levels of pm10s, tiny particles produced by vehicle exhaust emissions.
The scheme has failed to make a significant impact, according to the Daily Telegraph, as the amount of pm10s has already breached EU safety levels on 36 days since it began, with 15 February the worst day on record.
A study by Dr Alessandro Fiocchi, director of paediatrics at the hospital, found a strong correlation between the number of children admitted to the hospital with breathing problems and the pm10 levels. In a ten day period where pm10 levels averaged more than twice the safety limit, admissions rose to 401.
Dr Fiocchi called for urgent action “to limit the damage that is affecting one child in four in the region.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, Milan’s mayor, Letizia Moratti denied that the Ecopass scheme was a token gesture designed to strengthen the city’s bid to host Expo 2015, and said she would consider banning traffic from the city centre on Sundays.
A lung specialist at Milan University, Prof Luigi Allegra, has proposed an alternative scheme to prevent thousands of premature deaths, based on an increase in the pollution charge, new metro lines to be constructed and more edge-of-city parking to allow drivers to switch to public transport.