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Why smog is a threat to our health and there may be no “safe threshold”

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Why smog is a threat to our health and there may be no “safe threshold”

Record Smog in Italian Cities Raises Health Concerns

Italy is currently facing record levels of smog, with the Po Valley cities being among the hardest hit. Citizens in Milan have even discussed the possibility of a class action lawsuit due to the damages caused by prolonged exposure to the polluted air. Recent studies have shown that fine particles from the smog are responsible for an alarming 80,000 deaths each year in Italy.

The health risks associated with the polluted air are grave, with cardiovascular disorders, lung diseases, and tumors being the most prevalent. Additionally, the smog can exacerbate diabetes, impact nervous diseases, and harm fetuses and the male reproductive system.

New American studies published in the British Medical Journal are also sounding the alarm, stating that there is no safe threshold for exposure to the pollutants. These studies have raised concerns about the risks associated with atmospheric particulate matter, particularly particles that are 36 times finer than a grain of sand, known as PM2.5.

It’s important to understand what atmospheric particulate matter is, and what substances are at risk. This invisible dust is composed of solid and liquid particles and can cause long-term health issues. Human activities, especially within urban centers, are the major contributors to the particulate matter, as well as gases such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone, which can be harmful to human health.

The World Health Organization recommends that annual levels of PM2.5 particulate matter should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic meter, or 15 micrograms per cubic meter over 24 hours for more than 3-4 days a year. However, these limits are often breached, leading to severe health implications.

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Two separate American studies have linked exposure to fine dust to increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular and pulmonary-related diseases. The researchers found that hospitalizations increased as a result of exposure to fine dust, even when the levels were within the WHO limits. This has sparked a debate about the need to re-evaluate the established threshold for the diffusion of atmospheric particulate matter.

It is clear that the smog in Italian cities poses a significant threat to public health, and action must be taken to mitigate the harmful effects. The health and well-being of citizens should be the top priority, and steps must be taken to reduce air pollution to ensure a safer environment for all.

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