Pollution in the Mediterranean

Pollution in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean has become a serious problem with no simple solutions. In this paper, we will discuss the problems in the Mediterranean, particularly in the area surrounding Italy. In addition to this we will also offer practical solutions.

The Mediterranean Sea has had a most common problem; one that affects most countries in the world. This problem is pollution, in its many forms. This sea is not one that handles any type of pollution very well. It takes ninety years for its waters to renew itself which is much too long for the massive amount of pollution created. Because of the time it takes for the waters to flow out of the Strait of Gibraltar, the pollution becomes massively more concentrated; thus, causing a bigger problem.

Two of the major problems are the sewer plants and tourism. Most of the time, only a few hundred people have to work in the sewage systems, but in the summertime, because of all the tourism, the amount of people working increases to thousands. This is because of the huge amounts of sewage caused by the tourists. The sewer systems are not adequate to handle all of the sewage produced by the tourists. In addition to causing the sewers to fail, the tourists create air pollution by driving their rental cars. Tourists also limit the area's water resources, by engaging in sport fishing which is the way that many of the Mediterranean's people make a living. These problems, in addition to the negative effects on the environment, have also increased the Italians feeling of anti-tourism.

Other problems that cause pollution are the various toxins and domestic wastes put into the sea. The Mediterranean Sea is now under a major threat because of the oil tanker spills, overbuilding on the coasts, and the deluge of industrial and domestic wastes. These pollutants have also brought erosion to the land. The rivers that flow into the sea now bring heavy metal like mercury, and zinc, or chrome, detergents, and pesticides. Also, from various town's sewage, synthetic organic compounds like PCB's and DDT have been found in this sea. Due to reports released recently, these compounds that litter the sea have caused a great deal of concern within coastline towns.

In this almost closed sea travels thirty-five percent of all international trade in crude and refined petroleum. While the oil-tankers that wander about in the Mediterranean have not had a major spill, there have been a series of small spills. The oil washes up onto the beaches, or on the skin of unknowing sunbathers. This is part of the reason that one in five of the beaches in the Mediterranean is still too polluted for swimming. The sea has ten times higher amount of oil in the water than the once oiliest region in the world, Kuroshio. These pollutants have killed at least five thousand rare sperm-whales in the Mediterranean Sea each year.

The government has come up with some solutions to this vast, complex problem. Even though it will cost more than thirty billion dollars, they plan to stem the flow of sewage into the sea. They plan to have the Mediterranean Sea cleaned up by the year 2025. Some places have already begun to show a difference in their pollution rates. Throughout the next couple of years, the money should come easily to help clean up the sea, because the government plans to tax tourists (part of the problem) to take care of this natural resource.

In one of our solutions, we would also require each and every city, no matter how poor, to treat the water that is poured into the Mediterranean Sea. We would also work on a way to stop the frequent oil spills in the sea. Other than those additional ideas, we believe that the Italian government, along with the other Mediterranean countries, are on the right track!

Now, we will zero in on the pollution crisis in Italy. There are four cities in particular which are representative of the problems that face all of the other cities and towns in Italy.

First, in Trieste, Italy, there is a shipyard, iron foundry, incinerator, and a city center. These items are common to many cities in Italy. Various departments at the University of Florence, in Florence Italy decided to investigate the relationship between those four sources of environmental pollution, and lung cancer.

The closer that the people lived to these objects, the higher the risk of lung cancer. These results prove that air pollution is a risk factor in lung cancer. This is a risk that the people of Trieste and other industrialized cities in Italy face daily. We have to insist on filtering devices to minimize the risks for people who live in industrialized towns like Trieste.

Our next city for study is the city of Seveso, located near Milan in the Po Valley. In 1976, a trichlorophenol plant exploded, releasing a huge cloud of dioxin gas into the open air. This accidental explosion occurred when chemicals in a sealed reaction vessel were heated too quickly. Many of the people near the plant reported burns and sores on their skin, and there was an increase in reported personality and physical changes. Some areas were forced to evacuate thousands of people. The town slaughtered 80,000 domestic animals to ensure that further contamination would not occur. Pregnant women were advised to have abortions, and the level of birth defects increased significantly. This accident could have happened anywhere in Italy, or in the world. This has shown us that we need to press for safety measures to be placed on these types of chemical plants.

Rome faces the same problem that every major city in the world does-traffic problems which create pollution. Rome's traffic problems are massive, and nearly impossible to solve. The packed downtown district is using a traffic ban in the morning, and detour routes to try and ease pollution and traffic.

In January of 1983, a project was designed to protect the Roman Forum and other

monuments from the ill effects of vibration and pollution from motor vehicles.

These traffic problems should be dealt with much in the way that they are dealt with in the United States. They should have reduced prices on public transportation, and they should try to build more roads so the traffic will be moving, and no vehicles will be sitting idle, expelling gases into the air.

Now we travel to Vatican City, just outside of Rome. Over two million perspiring, dirty tourists pour into the Sistine Chapel a year. When they exhale carbon dioxide, it slowly poisons the atmosphere of the Vatican Museum.

Even worse is the 150 pounds of vapor and sweat deposited by tourists every hour! This vapor and sweat is absorbed by the plaster surface of Michaelangelo's 16th century frescoes.

Instead of limiting public access to the chapel, the Vatican officials came up with a new plan. The $800,000 environmental-control system that relies on seventy-five computerized minisensors and chemical scrubbers will keep the chapel's air clean, and it will protect the works of Michaelangelo. It's a small price to pay so that the public can view these masterpieces.

We think that the problems that the Mediterranean and Italy faces, while still a serious problem, have been getting better as the years go by. This is a reflection on the good efforts of the government. We believe that, through even better regulation and controls, this area will be back to the way it once was, with the sparkling skies and clear waters.

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