• April 13, 2024

Smoking freely

pollution Europe photo
Photo by (Mick Baker)rooster

Poland’s Health Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł has tried to blame the smog currently plaguing his country (and other parts of Europe) on people smoking tobacco, according to a story by Krzysztof Kokoszczynski for EurActiv.

His attempt at scapegoating smokers did not go down well, but it inspired media outlets to calculate the effects of smog in terms of cigarette usage.

Apparently, living in Warsaw is equivalent to smoking about 1,000 cigarettes a year, while for Kraków the figure is 4,000 cigarettes a year.

Both cities compare poorly with New York, where the estimate is 275 cigarettes a year.

Poles became concerned when air pollution made the headlines, partly because of the way in which pollution levels are made public.

They learned that levels of PM2.5 and PM10 dust were routinely several times above safe limits.

But they learned too that those limits were set much higher than they were in other European cities.

For example, the smog alarm in France for PM10 dust is triggered when there is at least 80 μg per cubic metre of air.

In Poland, warnings are issued only when the PM10 content is above 300 μg per cubic metre.

About 48,000 people reportedly die each year in Poland due to air pollution.