The Impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict on the air quality of Milan

The war in the Eastern European country is having negative effects on air quality in other countries such as Italy

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The Impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict on the air quality of Milan
© Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Staff Getty Images

Air quality is a problem that is affecting several large cities around our beloved planet. And it would appear that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is having negative effects on the air quality of other countries, such as Italy.

In Milan, the northern Italian city that appears to have problems with the air its citizens breathe.

The study: The Impact of Russia-Ukraine geopolitical conflict on the air quality and toxicological properties of ambient PM2.5 in Milan, Italy, published on the Scientific reports, made an interesting retrospective on the topic.

Milan
Milan© Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Staff Getty Images
 

Russia-Ukraine war and the impact on air quality 

The researchers explain in their abstract:

"The geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted Europe's natural gas supplies, driving up gas prices and leading to a shift towards biomass for residential heating during colder months. This study assessed the consequent air quality and toxicological impacts in Milan, Italy, focusing on fine particulate matter (PM2.5, dp < 2.5 μm) emissions.

PM2.5 samples were analyzed for their chemical composition and assessed for their oxidative potential using the dithiothreitol (DTT) assay across three periods reflecting residential heating deployment (RHD): pre -RHD, intra-RHD, and post-RHD periods. During the intra-RHD period, PM2.5 levels were significantly higher than those in other periods, with concentrations reaching 57.94 ± 7.57 μg/m3, indicating a deterioration in air quality.

Moreover, levoglucosan was 9.2 times higher during the intra-RHD period compared to the pre-RHD period, correlating with elevated levels of elemental carbon (EC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

These findings were compared with previous local studies before the conflict, underscoring a significant rise in biomass-related emissions. DTT assay levels during the intra-RHD were 2.1 times higher than those observed during the same period in 2022, strongly correlating with biomass burning emissions.

Our findings highlight the necessity for policies to mitigate the indirect health effects of increased biomass burning emissions due to the energy crisis triggered by the geopolitical conflict."

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