Why 33 of the 50 most-polluted towns in Europe are in Poland

THE spa town of Rabka-Zdroj, in southern Poland, has been known as a treatment centre for children since the 19th century. These days it also has terrible air. In January 2017 the level of benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogenic compound, was found to be 28 times normal limits. If this goes on, Rabka-Zdroj could lose its spa-town status, which needs to be renewed every ten years. Air pollution is “our silent enemy”, says Zbigniew Doniec of the town’s Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases.

Rabka-Zdroj is hardly alone; across swathes of Poland, winter means smog. An astonishing 33 of Europe’s 50 most-polluted towns are in Poland, as ranked by the World Health Organisation in 2016. Among them is Katowice, which will host the next UN climate summit in December. Coal heating in houses is largely to blame; to save money, people burn waste coal and slurry. (Defying the law, others simply burn rubbish.) In small towns, dark fumes rise from chimneys, giving the cold air a toasty edge. On bad…Continue reading
Source: Europe Economic News