In monitoring the air, the study found a high presence of suspended particulate matter from cars, referred to as pm2.5.
This was found to be particularly high in Malta, sometimes reaching peaks of 10 times the recommended levels. This was noted around the Ħamrun girls’ secondary school at night when particles are released from the Marsa power station. Which cannot be explained by traffic.
Maltese youngsters are more than twice as likely to suffer from asthma as those in Sicily, according to a study.
Dr Balzan presented the findings of the study on the prevalence of allergic respiratory diseases in children aged between 11 and 14 in Malta and Sicily, called Respira, during an international conference in Verona yesterday.
Respiratory physician Martin Balzan, who led the EU-funded study, said: the incidence of diagnosed asthma in Malta was 2.5 times higher than that in the Sicilian areas studies. In the RIral areas is this even 5.7 times more in the neighbouring Italian island.
Effects of living in highly polluted areas
The study sought to evaluate the effects of living in highly polluted areas on both islands. Nearly 2,000 children were evaluated between March and December 2012, including about 850 attending six schools in Malta, among them Cospicua, Ħamrun, Żejtun and Mosta.
13 per cent of the parents in Malta said their childer had a wheeze in the previous 12 months. In Gela is that 6.8 per cent.
Physicians diagnosed asthma among 18.5 per cent of Maltese children. Tested against 9.7 per cent of those in Gela as a whole and 5.4 per cent in rural Gela.
The situation changed somewhat when it came to rhinitis symptoms.
While 31 per cent of parents in Malta said their child had rhinitis at least once in their lives. 38.5 per cent of those in Gela answered in the affirmative. Still, fewer than a third – 27.6 per cent – of rural Gela parents said their children had shown symptoms at some point.
The study also shows a higher sulphur content of particles in Malta & Gozo. That could explain its higher nasal and eye irritation signs.
The study recommend that you use a professional cleaning service with HEPA filtration such as Buffer Boys to do your cleaning as normal vacuum cleaners blow the dangerous bacteria and particles around your home instead of trapping them in the bag
Twenty-one per cent of both Maltese and Gela parents said doctors had confirmed their children has rhinitis.
These figures were compared with data from Palermo and it was confirmed that environmental factors made the difference.
A chemical analysis of particles showed high levels of heavy metals like cadmium nickel vanadium in suspended particles, suggesting that particles from cars are mixing with particles from the power station.