Milan Urban

Keep the windows closed: Smog alarm

I’ve noticed over the past days that it was seldom as sunny as the weather report suggested. Then, yesterday, I caught the news that smog alarm was declared in Torino. Stay inside. Don’t open doors and windows. It sounded rather scary. I dropped plans to commute by car sharing that day. Later, I searched for information on the situation in Milan. The featured map above shows the situation today, on the 20th. Yesterday’s situation was worse.


The green area on the South of Lombardy corresponds with the Po valley. It seems the river had some positive effect. The map only shows air quality in Lombardy. All the data (overall and for individual pollutants) is publicly available for the current day and some in the past.

Anyways, while some people in Milan have absolutely no shame to emit CO2 to cover 300m of road with snow for a useless marketing trick in a 20-degree warm October, we are facing a troubling situation. As of October 17th, we have already had 50 days in Milan when the threshold for pollutants was lower than the actual level. Only in 2017.

So, we are imposing traffic limitations. And since heating plants are working only on small scale at the moment (the warm temperatures reduce demand), we can rather safely conclude that traffic is the main culprit. Which points back at the urgency to improve the public transport infrastructure in the city.

When I moved over from Holland, I was joking that I would miss wind and rain. I was right. I just didn’t expect it would be for the quality of air. And if I look at that map, I’m recognizing that not even getting higher up int he mountains would e a solution to this problem. In other words: It’s worse than the summer heat.

Meanwhile, water levels in the lakes is down again as well. After things looked rosier at the end of a wet period in early September. Lago d’Iseo is slowly approaching its all-time minimum. Rain is still not in sight. This year is very dry even for Italian standards. And as a side effect, pollutants stay in the air for longer and accumulate easier.

I’ll do my share. No car-sharing until the situation has improved and this map turns green again.


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