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Poland: HEAL co-organises air quality meeting in Zakopane

In May, HEAL together with Client Earth Poland, Polish Green Network (Polska Zielona Sieć) and Made in Zakopane co-organised a public meeting on air quality in Zakopane, Poland.

The meeting which took place at the headquarters of the Tatra National Park, focused on the air pollution problem in Zakopane, one of the most known renowned spa towns in Poland (situated in the Małopolska region), and the possible ways to improve the air quality in the city and its neighbourhood.

Zakopane, which is visited by almost three million Polish and foreign tourists each year, struggles with a huge air pollution problem. The pollution notoriously exceeds concentration levels recommended by the World Health Organization, especially during the winter and when heating is being used. Citizens complain about the common smog effect that reduces the attractiveness of the city and therefore lowers its comptetitiveness against other resorts in Poland.

Air pollution is mainly caused by domestic coal burning, which is still very popular in Zakopane. Despite introducing a geothermal heating system, most people still use coal furnances due to a slight price difference. As Zakopane is located in a valley, the air pollution collects there.

During the meeting Łukasz Adamkiewicz, HEAL’s Coal and Health Adviser, gave a presentation on the negative health impacts of air pollution based on statistics from Zakopane from previous years. Łukasz highlighted the importance of phasing out coal from domestic heating systems, which can reduce the death and disease rates and improve public health in the region.

Małgorzata Smolak from Client Earth Poland, focused on the example of Kraków, which is the one Polish city which has adopted a ban of coal burning in domestic furnances.

The meeting ended with open debate on domestic coal combustion and the problem of air pollution, engaging citizens to express their main concerns and propose ideas on how to improve air quality in Zakopane.

Originally posted on 26 June 2014

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