Smoggy Naples catches up with Italian urban car bans

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 31, 2015 9:22 AM

ROME (Reuters) - Naples on Thursday became the latest Italian city to ban road traffic within certain hours, in a bid to limit air pollution which is causing growing alarm about health risks.

The southern port town follows in the tracks of Milan and Rome, which both imposed emergency limits last week, after a nationwide build-up of micro particles in the atmosphere during an unusually dry winter.

Central heating in some public buildings will also be restricted, according to the decree, released by Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris, which will be in force on six days between Thursday and Jan. 8.

Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti called for outdated heating systems to be improved, a day after promising government spending of 12 million euros to battle pollution.

In an interview with Thursday's edition of Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper, Galletti rejected a suggestion that pollution was raising Italy's death rate and said some people were guilty of "unacceptable profiteering" from the smog emergency.

Galletti appeared to refer to critics of his government's policies including Beppe Grillo, founder of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement.

Grillo wrote on his blog on Thursday that Italy had voted to water down European directives on emissions, and posted a picture of Galletti with a drawn-on face mask, with the caption "Minister of Smog"

Some metropolitan authorities also said concerns about pollution had contributed to their decisions to ban traditional New Year's Eve fireworks.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Toby Chopra)