Air pollution and related respiratory diseases: the experience of a Local Health Authority in Liguria (North Italy)


Background. Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that air pollution due to both industry and heavy traffic has short- and long-term effects on health. The study was carried out in an industrial area with heavy urban and motorway traffic in the Province of Genoa (Italy). Methods. The study was carried out from June 2005 to July 2008. An epidemiologic study was conducted by monitoring an elementary/ middle school situated in an area of recent industrial development and an elementary/middle school located in an area free from sources of industrial pollution. Furthermore, we conducted an investigation of workers in commercial premises situated in one area of heavy vehicular traffic. In the study areas, environmental monitoring campaigns were carried out in order to determine the association between indoor and outdoor pollution and respiratory disorders. Results and discussion. The study did not bring to light any specific health problems attributable with certainty to industrial emissions. The impact of pollution caused by motor traffic proved to be greater than that due to industrial emissions. More exhaustive sampling campaigns should be implemented in order to quantify the effects of specific sources of emissions and to correlate these sources with pollutants (industry, urban traffic, motorway traffic).