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Info-graphics: Coal pollution and health

With a series of info-graphics, HEAL in Poland explains why the problem of smog and air pollution, particularly from coal power plants is so serious to health. Poland is one of the countries with the heaviest smog levels in Europe.

Each of the four info-graphics focus on different aspects of the same issue – the impact of air pollution from coal power generation on health. The first info-graphic presents types of air pollutants and external health costs which are the consequence of poor air quality. It shows worrying numbers on health costs from a calculation of the health impacts of a coal plant in the pipeline in the Lublin region (Leczna).

Coal power plants and health: external health costs, link

During its average lifetime of 40 years, Leczna, with a future capacity of 500MW could cause 420 cases of adult chronic bronchitis, 2,040 cases of children chronic bronchitis, 210,000 work day loss and even 500 premature deaths.

The second info-graphic shows the link between some common diseases and smog, such as asthma, heart attacks, COPD, bladder cancer and lung cancer. Useful information about air quality standards and alert levels is given. To give a local perspective, the graphic shows the concentrations of PM10 during the autumn of 2015.

Coal power plants and health: premature deaths, link

The third info-graphic, proved to be the most popular as it touched upon the topic every Pole is interested in – economics. It compared yearly subsidies to coal with the public financing that is available to hospitals in Poland.

Coal power plants and health: coal subsidies and hospital budget, link

The aim of the fourth info-graphic was to change the common opinion that air pollution impacts only lung health and our breathing. The graphic here focuses on cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of premature deaths in Poland and correlated with air pollution.

Coal power plants and health: air pollution and cardiovascular diseases, link

In each of the graphic the number 3,500 was repeated. This is the number of premature deaths resulting from coal power generation in Poland each year. It is a significant number and action should be taken to improve air quality and reduce early deaths as much as possible. According to a recent poll, 82 percent of Polish citizens claim that the EU should support the process of improving air quality in Poland.

HEAL in Poland gives some recommendations that would help improve the air:

- Higher support for renewable energy;

- Introduction of action plans at national and regional level to reduce the health impacts of particulate matter and other pollutants such as benzo(a)pyrene, and;

- Creation of a strategy for phasing out coal power plants which harm our health.

An article is available in Polish, with more information of coal power plants impact on air pollution and health:

Originally posted on 17 March 2016

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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