The WHO has ranked air pollution as one of top 10 preventable causes of death. In fact it has predicted that by 2020 there will be 8 million deaths per year due to air pollutants. Yet the air quality in Krakow has devolved to the point where it is often worse than in cities infamous for their smog, like Beijing and Los Angeles.
The air has major health implications for everyone, but especially for vulnerable populations like those with asthma and other chronic diseases. Moreover, the air is especially important for children as they not only play outside but also have developing lungs. As a result of this air, each child in the city is at a higher risk of developing asthma. Particulate pollution, a kind of pollutant made of small particles is especially present in Krakow, has even been found to increase the chance of lung cancer. Apart from the lungs, heart health is directly related to air pollution, as air pollution has been found to contribute to cardiovascular disease and strokes.
Krakow’s Air Quality Among the Worst in the World / Jakość powietrza w Krakowie wśród najgorszych na świecie
It is impossible not to notice the thick smogs that periodically blanket Krakow, or to wonder what they are doing to your lungs, but even on seemingly clear days the city’s air is among the most polluted in Europe with levels of contaminants frequently exceeding World Health Organisation safe limits.
Krakow is now firmly established as one of Europe’s top tourist destinations, attracting 15.8 million visitors in 2013. Multinational companies are flocking here, as are young people unable to find jobs elsewhere in Europe. How long before awareness of the city’s poor air quality begins to make the city unattractive, threatening its economic health as well as the health of the people who live here?