Air qualityAir Quality Now. One-hour average PM10 concentration
123 µg/m3 (godzina 21:00)
89 µg/m3 (godzina 24:00)
62 µg/m3 (godzina 23:00)
Are There Any Other Solutions?
Although the ban on the use of solid fuels in individual heating furnaces seems to be a radical solution, it is necessary to reduce air pollution in Krakow. And while other solutions exist, they are not possible to implement due to the lack of legal or practical reasons. Here we present some suggestions proposed as an alternative to prohibition with the explanations why they are not possible to implement.
Article 96 of Environmental Protection Act (Prawo ochrony środowiska) provides the legal basis for the adoption of the ban. According to this article, the voivodeship sejmik may by means of a resolution, in order to prevent negative impact on the environment or monuments, determine for the area of a voivodeship or its part, the types of fuels allowed to be used and the method of implementing and controlling the obligation.
Prohibition of only low-quality coal ?
Unfortunately, this solution is not possible to implement for practical reasons. In Poland there are no coal quality standards. In the case of coal burned in Krakow, one could still coal depots still purchase a low-quality coal that causes the greatest pollination. There is no legal possibility to ban selling low-quality coal. Enforcement of this solution would also require taking regular samples from all the furnaces in Krakow (the estimated number of furnaces varies from 30 000 to 60 000). Regarding that in 2011 municipal police controling the ban on burning waste incineration collected only 22 samples and the introduction of prohibition on burning low-quality coal would require tens of thousands of samples, this solution is not feasible .
Maybe the ban is not necessary because people will exchange coal stoves if funding is provided?
Although many residents of Krakow are probably happy to benefit from grants for the exchange of solid fuel stoves without waiting for the ban, the assumption that it is the majority of solid fuel stoves users is irresponsible and unrealistic. Coal is the cheapest heating fuel available in Poland , and the cost of heating it is often reduced by regular, hough illegal, burning of waste in coal boilers. Therefore, it is difficult to expect that all the coal stoves users are eager to get rid of them. For some conversion to the heating system other than coal will mean higher costs which might be hard to afford. Therefore, the city prepared for them a special aid programme to cover the costs associated with more expensive heating sources. Therefore, the aid programme allows to improve air quality avoiding the negative consequences of the change for poorest people. We shouldn't also forget people install new coal-fired furnaces. A ban on burning solid fuels will resolve this problem.
Is not it enough to install modern boilers which don't emit so much dust?
It is true that the emission coming from modern boilers with retort furnaces or from wood-pellet boilers is lower than from conventional furnaces. But there is no legal basis to identify the type of installation. The introduction of such a solution would require an amendment to the Environmental Protection Act. In addition, it should be noted that in the case of coilers with retort furnaces, emission increases significantly due to improper use of the device. It is also possible to modify the boiler to allow the combustion of waste .
What if the ban affects negatively the Polish coal mining industry?
These fears are unfounded. A large part of furnaces will be replaced with a connection to the district heating network, which is powered from the power plant. The main fuel burned in the power plant is coal. The difference, however, lies in the fact that it is easier to monitor emissions from one plant than from the tens of thousands of chimneys. In addition, the power plants are subject to routine and special safety reviews.
Maybe the ban will not change anything because the traffic is the main source of smog?
This argument is not supported by any data on concentrations of particulate matter. In the winter months particular matter concentrations are several times higher than in the months following the heating season. Concentrations of benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogen, are three times higher in Krakow than in Warsaw, and one hundred times higher than in London. It is worth mentioning, that cars do not generate large amounts of benzo(a)pyrene . This substance is released by the combustion of solid fuels in a low temperature (e.g. in household stoves) . According to the analysis carried out for the Marshal's Office, burning of solid fuels in household gurnaces is responsible for 42% of PM10 and one third of PM2,5 pollution. However, reduction of car traffic in the city center is a necessary solution (since the emissions of nitrogen oxides are also high) but without the ban it will not contribute significantly to the reduction of particular matter pollution in Krakow .