The Open Journal of Air Quality (OJAP) has published an article presenting the results of Valuta l’Aria 2023, the second survey investigating citizens’ perceptions of air quality in the Po River Basin.

The paper titled Unveiling Citizens’ Perceptions, Attitudes, and Behaviors towards Air Quality: Insights from a Survey in the Po Basin Area is signed by Marco Ottolenghi, Michele Bartolomei of ART-ER – the project partner in charge of the survey, and Duccio Tosi and Niccolò Maria Todaro of the Sant’Anna Institute in Pisa.

The paper in English is available here.

From 19 to 21 September, a delegation of partners from the Bulgarian LIFE IP CLEAN AIR project, which shares the theme of improving air quality with the PrepAIR project, visited Bologna.

The delegation, consisting of representatives of municipalities, including the lead partner Municipality of Sofia, met with the partners of the LIFE Prepair project in 3 days of exchange of information and experiences linked by the common aim of improving the air in their territories.

The meetings focused in particular on air quality monitoring and assessment, actions aimed at reducing the impacts of biomass for domestic heating and urban mobility.

The 2022 Report of air quality assessment in the Po Valley Basin and Slovenia is now available for download.

The document is the result of the work of the group coordinated by ARPAE Emilia-Romagna and ARPA Piemonte, in which the environmental protection agencies of Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia (ARSO) participated, and is in addition to the 2020 and 2021 edition.

This third assessment report of action D5 provides a synthetic view on the state of air quality in the Po Valley and Slovenia for year 2022 and examines PM10, PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide and ozone, which are the pollutants whose concentration values more frequently exceed legislation thresholds. The assessment was carried out with data fusion techniques using model output and monitoring data collected within the PREPAIR project. Even though five CTM and data fusion modelling systems with different setup (resolution, boundary condition, meteorological data and data fusion technique) have been used, the model outputs are similar to each other. In this report the assessment methodology, the data fusion technique and results of the most critical indicators compared to the limit values established by the 2008/50/EC Directive are shown.

Click here to download the 2022 report.

Visit the Air Quality and Emissions Assessment pillar page to see all published reports

During the final conference of the ‘Biomass’ pillar of the LIFE PrepAIR project, held on June 1st in Milan at the end of seven years of work, several conclusions emerged related to the results produced by the project, on the management of policies to reduce emissions from woody biomass heating systems.

Indeed, biomass combustion for domestic heating is responsible for 57% of primary emissions of fine particulate matter, PM10, and 65% of ultra-fine particulate matter, PM 2.5 (source: Life PrepAir 2019 database), most of which comes from plants installed more than 10 years ago (source: AIEL Statistical Report 2022).

The four regions of the Po Valley that are subject to European air quality infringements (‘Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna’) have been working together on these issues for almost 20 years, which is unique at the European level, as Gian Luca Gurrieri of the Lombardy Region pointed out. Together, the regions set a key agenda: the request to the Italian government to renew the Turin protocol – which was signed in June 2019 – with actions of national competence on biomass, to support and complement regional policies (which have already been activated over the years and will of course continue).

The significance of the several calls for tenders that the different territories of the Po basin that are partners in the project have launched in recent years to boost the replacement of biomass plants was then emphasised; initiatives that are intended to be repeated in the near future to support technological renovation and the spread of the most advanced and therefore less polluting devices.

In fact, the five Po Valley regions (the four already mentioned, with the addition of Friuli-Venezia Giulia) have in recent years promoted the replacement of obsolete plants with new biomass plants, thanks to special calls for tenders. Overall, from the opening of the calls for tenders up until May 23, approximately 8,000 applications were submitted and funds worth over thirty million euros were allocated.

This theme was followed by discussions on several open issues.

Regarding the registration of biomass plants, it was stressed that the process would be greatly facilitated by extending the acknowledgement of the professional profile of the chimney sweeper, who could also have the task of registering plants during the annual chimney cleaning operations. Regarding the profile of this operator, the extension of this recognition (currently regulated only by Lombardy and the Province of Trento) could be conveyed by a Position Paper drawn up at the end of the project, with the aim of acting on a regional basis first and then on a national level, also as part of the re-launch of the actions of the Turin Protocol.

With regard to the issue of inspections, it was pointed out that – in relation to a tendency towards a greater future use of woody biomass as a fuel for domestic heating (unfortunately favoured by the trend of natural gas costs) – it is necessary to provide for a strengthening of control and inspection actions, given that the general biomass device stock is in part obsolete and highly polluting. However, the problem of how to facilitate inspections at private homes remains unsolved: a national provision allowing access to homes in order to verify the presence of a biomass system or the quality of wood or pellets would be of great help.

In relation to these issues, it is necessary to envisage an initiative that introduces a regulation on the controls to be carried out on the devices, particularly in the private sector, which identifies and defines the different cases of operations (e.g. alerts, presence of ‘black smoke’), the person(s) who can intervene in these cases, and the procedures for verifying the requirements of the set up, the characteristics and maintenance of the device, the type of fuel used and combustion residues.

It is recommended that, in addition to the communication campaigns of the Project and of each Region, a national communication campaign be implemented to reach the population more effectively and raise awareness on the correct use of this type of devices and the correct way to burn wood.

The LIFE Prepair Project | Katia Raffaelli, Emilia-Romagna Region

Keynote Speech | Gian Luca Gurrieri, Lombardy Region

Communication and public awareness on the correct use of biomass for domestic heating | Luisa Pineri, Lombardy Region

Technical and specialist training for installers and designers of domestic biomass systems. Enhancement of the role of “qualified chimney sweep” for the control and maintenance of biomass domestic systems. | Gabriele Tonidandel, Trento Province

The professional figure of the chimney sweep. | Sandro Bani, Antonio Faggiano, ANFUS

Woods status Report | Paolo Nastasi, ERSAF

Analysis of the logistics of consumption and supply of woody biomass | Antonio Ballarin Denti, Domenico Vito, FLA – Nicola Andrighetto, Università di Padova

Measures fighting the domestic combustion impact on air quality in Austria | Manuel Schwabl, BEST – Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies GmbH

Climate Positive | Nicola Andrighetto, University of Padova

GreenChainSAW4Life | Lucio Vaira, Walden Srl

BBCleanLIFE (Alpine Space project) | Giacomo Gerosa, University Cattolica del S.C.

The perception of citizens on Air Quality in the Po Valley Area | Marco Ottolenghi, Michele Bartolomei, ART-ER

The current status of the legislative reviews related to domestic heating appliances | Bernardo Martinez, EU Commission

Technological developments for reducing PM and organic carbon in biomass domestic heating-systems | Valter Francescato, AIEL

Development of national legislation and measures | Fabio Romeo, Ministry for Environment


Pillar Biomass’ Final conference, in Milan June the 1st. Programme and registration form available.

The scientific journal Atmosphere in its special issueAir quality Assessments and Management has published an article  by the title Impact of NOx and NH3 Emission Reduction on Particulate Matter across Po Valley: A LIFE-IP-PREPAIR Study.

The article is the result of ARPAE Emilia-Romagna, ARPA Piemonte, ARPA Lombardia and ARPA Veneto within LIFE PrepAIR modelling working group.

Different air quality modelling systems are used by the four regional agencies to assess the sensitivity of PM2.5 concentrations to the reduction of NOx and NH3 emissions with the aim of identifying both the most effective emission reduction strategies and analysing the non-linear effects on PM2.5 concentrations as the precursors vary.

The multi-model analysis shows that reductions in several emission sectors are necessary to achieve optimal results. In addition, the non-linearity analysis showed that during the cold season, PM2.5 abatement efficiency tends to increase with increasing emission reductions, whereas during the summer, it remains almost constant or decreases slightly with increasing reductions.

The full article is available here