The southern Polish city of Kraków issued a warning on Thursday in the wake of a dramatic increase in smog.A statement released by the city hall advised that the most vulnerable groups, including asthmatics, children and the elderly, “should avoid protracted exposure to the open air.”
The level of air pollution is apparently four times over the norm, and the mayor of Kraków has petitioned the regional governor to introduce emergency measures that would force lorries to bypass the city.
Smog levels always rise in Kraków with the onset of winter, and studies have shown that 50 percent of winter pollution comes from low emission sources, namely from the burning of coal and other objects in household stoves.
President of Poland Andrzej Duda signed a so-called ‘anti-smog’ law in October, following a long-running campaign by environmentalists.
The legislation gives local authorities complete sovereignty in deciding whether bans should be implemented regarding such matters as the burning of environmentally hazardous substances in domestic properties.
Kraków aims for a ban on burning coal to be enforced by 2019.
Meanwhile, the city is continuing a programme that funds the replacement of old-fashioned domestic stoves with environmentally friendly alternatives.
A 2013 report by the European Environment Agency found that Kraków had the third most polluted air of 383 cities across Europe.
Smoke, heavy traffic and Krakow’s location in a valley that has little wind to disperse the smog combine to make the city’s air the most polluted in Poland.