Italy Has A Crazy Idea To Combat Air Pollution: Bans Cars For Three Days In Milan And Rome To Reduce Smog

For many years, the green community has done all they can to educate the general public the situation caused by carbon emissions. Though numerous studies show the dangers to human health high carbon levels mostly through smog can cause, most of it was veiled behind the constant bickering among the U.S. two-party system on climate change.

Unfortunately, smog continues to increase despite the stalemate of the climate change argument in which numerous cities are now suffering levels that are extremely dangerous for human health. China is a prime example of this situation. The air pollution is so bad there, the government actually had to suspend its industry to counter it. And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, a Canadian start-up is making money off of China’s situation by selling bottled clean air to them. Apparently, clean air is more of a necessity to the Chinese that the start-up’s profits are booming even with each can being priced at a whopping $14 USD.

Now there is news of another country taking drastic measures to combat their dangerous smog levels. Reports show that Italy banned the use of cars for three days in both Milan and Rome to reduce smog.

The said drastic measure was taken up when excessive warm, dry weather persisted for several weeks. As a result of no wet and rainy weather dispersing smog, many cities in Italy have been covered in a blanket of smog, as reported by Inhabitat. As a result, certain cities are taking a page out of Beijing and Delhi’s handbook in smog reduction by kicking off a major initiative to ban the usage of cars.

There are some limits and exceptions to the ban though as only private vehicles are banned off the streets. Public transportation, like trains and buses, are still in service which are being offered at a discount to its citizens to encourage their use. Also, the ban will last only three days, six hours per day. It started on Monday, December 28, 2015, and will end on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. Hours when the ban is in effect are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Though banning cars for six hours a day may seem too little to make an impact, surprisingly it does make a difference. According to Gizmodo, studies at the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) tested pollution levels during their city’s car-free festival days. They found a dramatic drop in particulate matter in the air. Immediate neighborhoods where cars were banned benefited the most. The most dangerous particular matter (measuring 2.5 micrometers or smaller) declined by up to 49 percent. That is surely good news given what studies have found they account to numerous health problems including an increased number of acute cardiovascular disease.

This ban is a progressive step for any Italian city suffering from smog but more so for Milan. Because of their terrible amount of smog, Milan was named the most polluted city not just in Italy, but in the whole continent of Europe. That is a debilitating title to hold. Unfortunately, people believe the sporadic bans are not enough to effectively combat the problem. True the bans do well in the short-term, but eventually a long-term plan will need to be devised if anything is to change. If not, Italy will continue to have 84,000 deaths per year associated to poor air quality as detailed by the European Environment Agency.

[Photo by Massimo Sestini/Italian National Police via Getty Images]