As the summer approaches and the beaches fill up with weekenders and tourists, the seasons first report on the state of Italys seas has been released. The report, prepared for the environment ministry over the last three years, shows high levels of heavy metals, pesticides and chemicals almost all the way around the Italian peninsula.

Six water samples were taken from the coast of Lazio. The findings show alarming levels of arsenic and lead in the sea off Ladispoli, and pesticides at illegal levels off the coast of Fiumicino and the Monte Argentario. Since there is no heavy industry in these areas, the Italian environmental organisation Legambiente and the Worldwide Fund for Nature have asked for more control on the disposal of waste materials into rivers, and on the excessive use of agricultural pesticides.

The environmental ministry has attempted to defuse the situation by explaining that these tests are the first of their kind, so there is no comparable data for the findings. Also, some of the metals identified in the samples are found naturally in the seabed.