More talk more smoke as Poland sits at home

Telecoms are reporting massive increases in internet and phone traffic this week as Poland’s households switch to mobile communication as many sit in isolation.

The big providers have seen the numbers of phone calls rise by up to 50 percent in the case of Orange Polska and T-Mobile, in comparison to the start of the month, while Play reported a thirty percent jump, according to a report in Rzeczpospolita.

Internet usage is also up significantly. Play has seen levels rise by 40 percent, Orange and T-Mobile - 20 percent.

Increases in traffic are having an effect on data speeds, however, with irate users reporting speeds decreasing by up to 15 percent. “I always work at home, one Warsaw resident told us, but now I have to fight for bandwidth during the day with PlayStation and Netflix. I can’t send big files,” one media worker told PolandIN.

While telecom use is up, so unfortunately is the amount of particulate being measured in major cities. One local website in the garden city of Sadyba district of Warsaw, Ogrodowe miasto - Sadyba24, noted on March 18 that the amount of PM2.5 particulate matter measured at 2:00 am shot up to 388 percent of acceptable norms, while PM10 readings were up to 270 percent of norms.

In the opinion of site editor Andrzej Łokaj, this may be the effect of “families sitting snugly at home and lighting their wood stoves to savour in the warm atmosphere.” For his experience of talking to locals, there is a “tendency to blame rubbish burning or coal fires as the main source of pollution, but regular use of a log fire is just as lethal for the air quality.”

In Kraków pollution has gone up as far as 165 for PM10. gauged as “unhealthy”. Unlike Warsaw, the town has a ban on wood and coal fires since 2019. This does not stop particulate matter blowing in from surrounding areas, however.

One burgeoning segment of the green transport sector which has been suffering since the lockdown is bike and electric scooter hire. With universities and schools closed, their key market has taken a plunge. The town of Ostrów shut down its system to stop possible transmission of COVID-19 from bike handlebars. Meanwhile Bird and Hive have taken their scooters off the road in Warsaw. Lime remains, according to Rzeczpospolita.