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Residents of these cities in Poland inhaled smog for the largest number of days

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Although the winter was unusually mild, the smog still suffocated the inhabitants of parts of the country for an unusually large number of days. The Polish Smog Alarm, together with the Heal Polska organization, presented a list of cities with the largest number of smog days in the last heating season, conventionally counted from October 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023.

As experts note in the newly published report “Chorzy na smog“, the situation in our country is still terrifying. It turns out that even a warm winter did not significantly affect the number of days during which we were suffocated by smog. “The most smog record holders are in the south of the country: in Nowa Ruda, Sucha Beskidzka and Żywiec, where residents breathed heavily polluted air for more than two or three months. According to doctors, only a few hours of inhaling smog is enough for malaise, headaches, asthma attacks and shortness of breath to appear.

Short-term health effects of exposure to air pollutionPolish Smog Alert

15 most “smoggy” cities

The report includes 211 towns that regularly monitor the content of particulate matter. It turned out that in the case of as many as 180 of them, the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the maximum number of “smog days” (with too high concentrations of particulate matter PM10) were not met.

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The infamous record holder was Nowa Ruda. Its inhabitants breathed smog for 96 days more than indicated by WHO recommendations. Also on the podium were Sucha Beskidzka (79 days) and Żywiec (72 days).

The fourth place belongs to Pszczyna, which recorded 60 more smog days than the WHO indications. It was not much better in Nowy Targ (59 days). The next positions in the ranking are: Nowe Miasto Lubawskie (57 days), Lwówek Śląski (53 days), Zabierzów (52 days) and Mosina and Auschwitz (after 50 days). The eleventh place in the summary went ex aequo to Wodzisław Śląski and Nowy Sącz (49 days). Then there was Zdzieszowice (44 days), Piotrkow Trybunalski (42 days) and Radomsko (41 days).

– Despite the exceptionally warm winter, it turned out that the 2022/23 heating season was very difficult for the inhabitants of many towns. Traditionally, the top places are the same: Nowa Ruda, Sucha Beskidzka or Żywiec and Pszczyna. But it is important for us to see the problem more broadly: these cities represent hundreds of Polish towns where air pollution is still very high, but there is no measurement data there – said Anna Dworakowska from the Polish Smog Alert.

Towns with the largest number of days with high average daily PM10 pollution during the 2022/23 heating seasonPolish Smog Alert

A number of health problems

Moreover, the report indicates that the highest average daily concentration of PM10 dust was also recorded in Żywiec. It was almost five times higher than indicated by the WHO recommendations. The above situation took place despite the fact that many residents saved fuel by lowering the temperature in their homes, and the winter was quite mild. three meters per second).

– There is a lot of talk about chronic diseases due to smog, but little or nothing about the consequences of short-term exposure – added Weronika Michalak from HEAL Polska – Wrongly, because exceeding the permissible limits indicates that this problem is a daily bread for residents of Polish cities. The fact that we or our children are irritable, irritated, have a headache, may be a consequence of breathing polluted air. Unfortunately, one-day exposure can even lead to serious health effects, such as stroke or heart attack. This impact can be clearly seen in research and hospital statistics, she said.

– Even a short-term increase in the concentration of fine particulate matter by 10 µg/m3 translates into an increase in the risk of death due to stroke by as much as 11 percent. It can be seen with the naked eye that during the heating period in places and regions that are exposed to air pollution, the number of sick people and deaths increases, pointed out Tomasz Karauda, ​​a specialist in internal medicine.

Towns with the highest average daily PM10 concentration during the 2022/2023 heating seasonPolish Smog Alert

As experts write, improving air quality is a process that requires action at all political levels. However, at the end of April, the government extended the suspension of coal quality standards by three months. “This means that poor-quality coal will also go to furnaces and boilers in the upcoming heating season. Decision-makers should learn a lesson from the analysis of the smog season 2022/23 – we cannot lead to a situation where coal waste, lignite or garbage,” it said. That is why cooperation between politicians and the health sector is so important.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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