Poland’s smog killed 19,000 in 2016: minister

A general view of Krakow in southern Poland covered with smog. Photo: Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Air pollution in Poland claimed the lives of 19,000 people in 2016 costing the country up to EUR 30 bn (PLN 128 bn) annually, Poland’s Entrepreneurship and Technology Minister, Jadwiga Emilewicz, said on Monday.

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A World Health Organization report in 2016 said 33 of Europe’s 50 most-polluted towns are in Poland.

Most of the smog comes from home furnaces that are often used to burn low quality coal or even garbage.

“What we burn at home, is the main cause of the terrible air quality in Poland,” said Ms Emilewicz citing the result of a report prepared by the ministry of entrepreneurship and technology.

The report said airborne pollution killed 15,000 in cities and almost 4,000 in rural areas in Poland in 2016.

The European Commission took Poland to court over its slow response in addressing poor air quality. The European Union’s top court in February said Poland had failed to uphold air quality standards.

Targets introduced by the EU to reduce the amount of pollutants for 2005 and 2010 are being exceeded in 23 of the EU’s 28 members. Bulgaria faced similar charges to Poland in April 2017.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki introduced a PLN 130-billion (EUR 30 billion) program in June to fight the air pollution.