In Northern Italy a large fraction of the population is exposed to PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations that exceed the European limit values and the stricter WHO air quality guidelines. For this reason, in 2017 four Regions (Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto, and Emilia Romagna) and the national Ministry of the Environment adopted a set of joint measures, namely the “Po Basin air quality plan”. The plan mainly tackles emission from road transport, residential heating, and agriculture. Air quality plans at regional and local scale are usually implemented defining a set of emission abatement measures, starting from experts’ knowledge. The aim of this work is to define a methodology that helps decision makers in air quality planning, combining two different approaches: Source-Apportionment techniques (SA) and Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM). These techniques have been applied over a domain in Northern Italy to analyze the contribution of emission sources on PM10 concentration and to compute an optimal policy, obtained through a multi-objective optimization approach that minimizes both the PM10 yearly average concentration and the policy implementation costs. The results are compared to the Po Basin air quality plan impacts. The source-apportionment technique and the IAM optimization approach show intervention priorities in three main sectors: residential heating, agriculture, and road transport. The Po Basin air quality plan is effective in reducing PM10 concentrations, but not efficient, as a matter of fact the cost-effective policy at the same cost has a higher impact on air quality and on greenhouse gases emissions reduction.
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