10 October 2011
Italy’s business capital, Milan, banned all traffic from its streets for 10 hours on Sunday in an attempt to reduce pollution. The city is particularly vulnerable to pollution.
Viewed from the roof of Milan’s cathedral, the Duomo, the Alps appear through a brown, murky haze of pollution. Satellite images regularly show the city to be one of the world’s pollution hotspots.
The problem has been made more acute now by the weather. For most of the past month, Milaneses have been basking in glorious sunshine and temperatures well above the seasonal average.
That means pollution levels have reached a level not normally seen before the cold, still days of January.
The unseasonable weather has exacerbated the two principal causes of Milan’s perennial smog crisis: Italians’ love affair with the car and a trick of nature. Milan lies in a shallow bowl, which traps the fumes from cars, and inefficient old household boilers.
Sunday’s ban was triggered when the measure of pollution exceeded a statutory ceiling for more than twelve days.
Mark Duff, BBC News, Milan