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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Smog is a deadly threat, especially for the youngest. “We have the same thing every winter”

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You can’t see it, but it’s deadly dangerous. Smog is a problem for many Polish residents every year during the winter. Air pollution is especially dangerous for children. Doctors emphasize that people from the most vulnerable groups should not stay outside on smoggy days.

Friday morning was hard not only for the residents Katowice. The smog hanging over the city was recorded by the TVN24 camera.

– Typical smoggy weather arrived. This means that we had low temperatures below zero degrees, sometimes -5 or lower and, most importantly, there was no wind. Therefore, the concentrations of suspended dust were very high – said Piotr Siergiej from the Polish Smog Alert in an interview with TVN24.

Very poor air quality was recorded, among others, in Poznań. – I always breathe much worse in Poznań than when I go outside Poznań – said a resident of the capital of the Greater Poland Voivodeship. – We have the same thing every winter – said a man walking around Poznań.


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Smog and its harmful effects

As can be seen in the map below, during several dozen hours on Friday, air pollution increased mainly in the Silesian and Lesser Poland voivodeships, but also in the Łódź and Greater Poland voivodeships.

Air pollution on FridayTVN24, airly.org

In itself Krakow the air is cleaner thanks to anti-smog regulations and the elimination of solid fuel furnaces. However, the rest of the voivodeship continues to pollute. – Sometimes it’s better to go to Krakow for a walk than to go to the valleys near Krakow – said Dr. Monika Wojtaszek-Dziadusz.

Walking on smoggy days can cost your health; children, the elderly and people suffering from chronic diseases are most at risk. Smog can also cause such diseases. – One fourth of those who suffer from a fatal disease, the fourth cause of death in the world, i.e. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, have never smoked cigarettes, and the causative factor of their disease was simply dust suspended in the air – noted Professor Bolesław Samoliński, an allergist from the University of Warsaw Medical.

Smog harms the circulatory system, increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, and may lead to the development of cancer. Our interlocutors recall an example from history – London smog in 1952. – Back then there was fog, it was cold, everyone started burning fireplaces, and the smoke from the fireplaces did not spread, it just remained in London, around these houses. 12,000 people died then, and 300,000 were hospitalized, Samoliński noted.

The impact of air pollution on healthMaria Samczuk, Adam Ziemienowicz/PAP

The health condition of children living in Gdynia and Zabrze

Air pollution is particularly harmful to children. Dr. Piotr Dąbrowiecki, an allergist from the Military Institute of Medicine, conducted research in which he compared the health condition of children living in Gdyniawhere the air is clean, and children with Zabrzewhere the air does not meet standards.

– Children living in Gdynia have 200 milliliters better developed lungs and 100 milliliters better air flow through the respiratory system. This is a lot for this age group, said Dąbrowiecki. Children from Zabrze were diagnosed with cough more often, suffered from infections more often, and the effect of breathing polluted air can be compared to smoking 5 to even 10 cigarettes a day.

But it’s not all bad news. Other research by Professor Wiesław Jędrychowski from Krakow shows that smog may affect the intellectual development of children.

– When the mother was exposed to substandard doses of pollution during pregnancy, mainly particulate matter and benzopyrene, the children developed worse, more often had symptoms of asthma and allergies, but at school age tests showed that they had four points lower IQ – noted Dr. Piotr Dąbrowiecki.

Doctors emphasize that people from the most vulnerable groups should not stay outside on smoggy days. – We are very trained after COVID-19, we know what FFP2 masks are. If the concentration of these dusts is high, let’s wear these masks, said Dr. Irmina Wietlicka, a pulmonologist from the Wielkopolska Pulmunology Center.

Author:Anna Wilczyńska, anw

Main photo source: TVN24

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