Our latest study assessed the environmental quality of the area adjacent to the former Falck steelworks which produced a nickel and chromium alloy and which was closed in 1991.
Over the years the area has been the target of crime for an increase in deaths related to the company's toxic waste, of which the main suspect was precisely the hexavalent chromium, a compound classified by the World Health Organization (WHO), through the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), as a carcinogen for humans.
The study focused on the analysis of the river and sediment waters of the Fosso di Riva canal, adjacent to the disused industrial area, in order to assess the environmental quality of the water body, a probable receptor of the polluted and / or leached contaminants from the polluted soil of the former steelworks.
The area in question shows signs of contamination by heavy metals that interfere with the maintenance and protection of a territory with a high environmental value, characterized by the presence of areas belonging to the European ecological network Natura 2000 and sites characterized by the rich presence of species habitats animals and plants of community interest.
The presence of arsenic was found in river sediments. The high concentrations of this element compromise the quality of the aquatic system worsening the water quality and representing a risk for human health due to the transfer of arsenic, neurotoxin and carcinogenic compound, to the various trophic levels through the food chain and / or by contact or ingestion.
If international guides, such as the Canadian guidebook, which are more restrictive in environmental terms than the national standard, were taken as the reference standard for river sediments, the situation would be even more worrying due to the high concentration of chromium, whose normal threshold Italian is clearly bland and not very conservative and protective.
Furthermore it must be considered that the samplings were carried out not in conjunction with rain, when the washing is greater.
The contaminants present in the environment, such as aluminum, arsenic and chromium, can be correlated to the pollution situation of an industrial site, such as a steel mill. In fact, steelworks waste (in the dusts of the fumes that are felled during the melting process) contain arsenic, zinc, chromium, aluminum, lead, cadmium and mercury.
Tap water analyzed in a house at the municipality of Novate Mezzola is fully compliant with water quality standards for human consumption.
Despite the art. 32 of the Italian Constitution protects health therefore including the right to a healthy environment, understood as an element of the quality of life, this case highlights how in reality the Local Authorities, in charge of protecting the health of their citizens, are not respecting this fundamental principle of Italian constitution.
The local Committee " Valli and Lago Environment Health Committee of Novate Mezzola ", which for years has been protecting and defending this pre-alpine corner of paradise, based on our study, has appealed to the Lombardy TAR as local authorities are planning a new industrial site in a polluted area that clearly requires immediate reclamation before any further damage to this territory.