About 4,000 people die annually in Italy of air pollution related complications, according latest findings in a study by the Italian National Cancer Research Institute of Genoa.

The research carried out from 1996-2002 covered a sample of nine million people in 15 Italian cities. Rome, Milan, Naples, Bologna and Genoa are the most polluted cities with the concentration of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and micro particles exceeding the international maximum of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

Air pollution, mainly from vehicle traffic and industrial fumes, accounts for up to four per cent of mortality cases in Italy while it is estimated that five per cent of lung cancer cases are the result of poor quality air.

The risk of pollution is highest during the summer periods.

Currently, a no-smog campaign targeting vehicles and a new law on smoking are underway in Italy to reduce pollution levels.

The European Union is planning introduce legislation to reduce the maximum level of carbon monoxide concentration in the air to 20 micrograms per cubic metre.