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Poland: poor air quality reaches record level

Our eastern neighbours are at the forefront when it comes to bad air. A comparison with another European country gives an idea of the full extent.

Polish environmental policy is slowly changing, but it is far from realising that air pollution east of the Oder has reached worrying levels. According to a new scientific analysis by the Belgian University of Hasselt, Polish minors are exposed to three to nine times more air pollution than their French counterparts. The Polish adolescents studied for the study were found to have a 425% higher concentration of black carbon, a carcinogenic substance produced by the burning of fossil fuels, in their urine. These are figures that should not only put the Polish government on alert. 
Children in particular are vulnerable to air pollution. Particulate matter, such as the black carbon mentioned above, is directly related to lower birth rates, increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, reduced cognitive abilities, and respiratory and cancer diseases in adulthood. Experts estimate that 45,000 premature deaths in Poland are now attributable to air pollution. According to the health organisation WHO, of 50 municipalities with the highest levels of air pollution in the EU, 36 are in Poland. 

In 2018, 74 percent of Poland's energy needs were still covered by coal-fired power stations. The fight against air pollution is therefore directly linked to the willingness to break with traditions in the energy sector and get rid of old habits. After all, we are also talking about the lives of children, who are defencelessly exposed to this irresponsible environmental policy and have to pay dearly for their home-made mistakes with their health.