SARONNO, Italy - Say the name Legambiente, Italy’s environmental watchdog, and most people think about clean air campaigns. One that comes to mind is the campaign waged a few years back, quite a few years actually, by the people who live near the major tourists sites in Rome. Frustrated with the hundreds of tour buses that were parking illegally under their apartment buildings on a daily basis, they took to hanging sheets off of their balconies to show how quickly their white sheets turned black from the exhaust coming from those buses.
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The Legambiente is also known for its yearly air quality classification of the best and worst Italian cities. This year Venice took first place in the big city category with Bologna and Genoa earning second and third place for the improved air quality in those cities.
In the small town category Verbania, on Lago Maggiore in Lombardy came in first for the best improved in air quality, while Pordenone, which is up near Trieste in Friuli-Venezia Giulia came in a close second. Mantova and Lodi, both in the province of Lombardy, came in second and third respectively.
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This year’s winners did slightly better than the average. Venice has 41.2 cars per 100 inhabitants, while La Spezia and Genoa have less than 50 cars per 100 inhabitants. The cities that did not do well this year, Rome, Aosta, Catania, Frosinone, L'Aquila, Latina, Nuoro, Power , Isernia, Rieti and Viterbo Vibo Valentia, have a higher rate of more than 70 auto/100 inhabitants.
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The purpose of the European ranking was not to measure the reduction potential but to highlight the best clean air practices and assess which of the 17 selected cities made the most use of them. The categories of measure used in the ranking were selected based on their potential to reduce particulate matter (PM10), which is a pollutant regulated under European Union law. This means that its concentrations are closely monitored and that the commitment to reduce them is the major motivation behind most cities’ air quality strategies.
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