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Monday, 4 December 2017

The Smog Threat in Krakow

Dearest sweethearts,

Krakow is a magical and wonderful place to spend you holidays, but when you stay here long term you will discover it's downside: the smog trauma during the winter months. From November/December till March the air is stiff and unbreathable, people turning to masks to filter out the horrid air outside. I, to tell you the truth, don't actually wear one myself, but I understand the reason behind it. At the same time I must not tell lies and must admit that since I first came here in 2011, the winters are slowly but surely starting to clean up. The municipal team does it's best to raise awareness of the issue and promotes ecological transportation, changing of the old fire places (people do get reimbursed) and cutting down on the waste burning (still quite a long way to go with that topic...). The thing about smog is the fact that it is not a natural consequence - it is human made/produced. Plain and clear: people produce it and people complain/suffer. The power of remedy is in the hands of people and educating them properly so they can understand the threat and act accordingly.
The exposure to smog on a long term basis can lower the life expectancy and cause breathing issue, pulmonary disease. The World Health Organisation has been conducting tests for several years now and has published a list of 50 most polluted cities in the European Union - 33 were located in Poland! And Krakow is the 11th one in the list... The main issue of pollution in Krakow, causing the smog, is the coal stoves. They emit damaging substances in the air, due to the bad quality of the coal used for heating (or the usage of waste for heating - for example old tires). The furnaces in Krakow count for 42% of the air pollution in the city! 21% by industrial plants and 17% by fossil fuels - cars driving in the city. Not to mention that 20% comes from smaller cities, towns around Krakow, with lesser quality of living. To be quite frank, Krakow is located in a hollow so all the air does not rise or move but rather settles down upon Krakow like a blanket of death... when there is air circulation (wind) it clears up nicely, but when it is not... the air smells of burnt rubber. From December 31st, 2016, the highest measurement was 114 µg/m3 and in January 2017 it reaches 325 µg/m3, while the allowed norm in Poland is only 50 µg/m3
But this is a long term issue, that will not be fixed over night. Until now over 7000 stoves were replaced, by the end of winter season 2016, and 7000 more applications were submitted for this year (and for sure they were replaced as I can feel the difference!). Also the public transport is being constantly modernised and more and more buses have been switched to electronic ones. Of course there is also the ad-hoc idea that when the level of air is on RED the public transport should be free for people who own a car and choose to use the public transport in order to lower the pollution level. But solutions like this should not be ad hoc - it would be nice if the tax payers in Krakow would have free public transport anyday, or at least November to March. Either way we are paying taxes and working in Krakow, bringing money to the local coffers. Also it would be nice if people would understand, on the long term, the harm that they do on others and on themselves (their children). Stay clean, stay eco friendly and think on the environment, the impact that you have - think long term! Always! 

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Krakow But Not The Horrible Winter Smog