Air Quality in Lombardy, Italy: an Overview of the Environmental Monitoring System of ARPA Lombardia
Paolo Maranzano (Department of Economics, Management and Statistics, University of Milano-Bicocca and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)
ARPA Lombardia, Northern Italy, air quality and meteorology, environmental ground monitoring network, airborne pollutants
Earth, Vol. 3, N. 1 (February 2022)
MDPI Open Access Journal
In this paper, we describe the structure and the features of the air quality and meteorological monitoring system adopted in the Lombardy region in Northern Italy. We are interested in describing which data the Regional Agency for Environmental Protection (ARPA Lombardia) must collect, how this process takes place and how they are disseminated to the public for institutional communication and research purposes. ARPA monitors the atmospheric conditions through a dense ground monitoring network composed mainly by permanent stations, but also by mobile samplers. We describe in a detailed fashion the structure of the network: how many stations the network consists of, their locations, which pollutants and weather events are monitored and with what frequency. Our main objective is to present to an international audience the case study of ARPA Lombardia and the main available public data, explicitly stating the sources of information and how to find them, and encouraging international researchers to deal with the subject. In spite of the significant and extensive efforts made to counteract the phenomenon of air pollution, the air quality recorded in the region is very poor, and the local authorities are struggling to comply with international regulations on the concentration of pollutants in the air, making Lombardy a relevant international case. In addition, we present in a synthetic and descriptive way, without any modeling ambition, some data observed in the last years in Lombardy regarding meteorology and the main pollutants (oxides and particulate matters). The empirical descriptive results have been obtained by analyzing sample data provided by ARPA Lombardia through the same sources described in the sections dedicated to the Agency. From the graphical analysis, it is noticeable that at aggregate (regional) level, the concentrations are affected by significant decreasing trends, but at a rather contained speed. This is particularly true for the concentrations of oxides (NO2 and NOX) in urban and industrial areas. However, particulate matters and ozone show a high persistence in the average concentrations, interrupted only by the alternation of climatic seasons. The data also show that the meteorology of the region does not seem favorable for the improvement of air quality, as the region is characterized by low precipitation, and wind almost everywhere is not very intense. This situation could be induced by the unfavorable geography of the area, which prevents adequate air recycling and facilitates the stagnation of pollutants. We suggest that any public policy intervention aimed at improving the air quality situation in the region should take into account this empirical evidence in the impact assessment phase.