Electromagnetic and acoustic pollution

The sources of electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields of particular environmental interest are classified in two main categories:

-          sources of electromagnetic fields generated by extremely low frequency (0-3 kHz), mainly represented by the systems of production, distribution and use of electricity (power lines)

-          sources of electromagnetic fields generated by radio frequency and microwave (30 kHz - 300 GHz), mainly represented by radio-telecommunication systems, such as broadcasting facilities (RTV) and radio base stations (RBS) for mobile phones.

Such pollution sources, due to their relevant environmental and social impact, have been so far the subject matter of numerous studies carried out by ISPRA, in collaboration with the Regional and Provincial Environmental Agencies System, in order to highlight the critical environmental issues. They also aim at developing tools to adequately respond to the growing social attention toward the potential negative effects on human health, associated with the exposure to electromagnetic fields.

This issue requires therefore a coherent, clear and transparent information, especially on the part of local authorities, in order to avoid unnecessary alarm. In fact scaremongering still occur, despite the important progress made from a legislative and scientific point of view to provide an effective protection of citizens’ health, and also in spite of the results of the monitoring activity carried out by ARPA-APPA, which demonstrate that exceedances of regulatory limits happen very seldom.

The development of information and data collection tools, such as the National Registry of Electromagnetic Fields, known also as CEN, have been of great benefit in recent years to provide prompt answers to the society. In particular the Registry, thanks to the type of data and processing and once at operating speed, will allow a description of the environmental impact of the electromagnetic field sources throughout the country. Currently the consultation of the Registry is limited to the technical staff of the Regional Environmental Agency System and to managers who participated to the development of the tool. Access modality for technical personnel and general public are under definition.

Noise pollution plays a key role among environmental issues, with close connections to the problems related to urban areas, due to the concentration of the main noise sources in the city.

In fact there are several noise sources in the urban areas: the main transport infrastructures are often located in the suburbs, such as airports, while railway lines andand road infrastructures are present in urban areas. There are also industrial sources,  located in specific and delimited areas, while commercial and office buildings sources are  present throughout the territory, contributing to define the “acoustic characterization of the territory”, which  causes psycho and physical discomfort instead of being just a connotative feature of the city. The high complexity of the national legislation  regarding noise  pollution (L.Q. 447/95 and  implementation decrees) coexists with the European legislation (Directive 2002/49/EC  relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise).  In both cases urban areas are involved in an active way. The  agglomerations notified by Regions and autonomous Provinces are competent authorities in the preparation of strategic noise maps, designed for the global  assessment of the noise exposure in a given area due to different noise sources. They are also competent  authorities for the  drafting of the action plans, designed to manage noise issues and effects, including noise reduction if necessary, and to protect quiet areas.