KRAKOW, Poland, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Due to its constant poor air quality indicators, Poland has been called "Europe's capital of smog". While the problem is getting more and more serious, experts and decision-makers are searching for efficient means to counteract the phenomenon.
According to the World Health Organization's 2016 list, with as many as 33 cities in Poland among the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union (EU) and excessive coal burning, the country faces a severe air pollution problem. Poland's energy strategy, despite recent pressure from the EU, is still strongly reliant on the coal industry.
Counteracting smog was the main problem discussed during the Global Clean Air Summit forum, held in Krakow, southern Poland on Monday.
The event aimed at sharing knowledge and expertise in the field of air pollution in four areas: policy, health, business, and technology. Participants came from various countries and included government ministers, and representatives from universities, research units, non-governmental organizations, and the European Commission.
Jadwiga Emilewicz, Poland's undersecretary of state, ministry of Economic Development, introduced some of the government's actions to reduce the smog level, including emission standards for boilers, and expanding on the law on the quality of solid fuels, which is still to be implemented.
The use of coal sludge and coal flotoconcentrates as fuel, which contributes to poor quality air indicators, has to be banned by law. Polish president also recently signed a law on introducing payment for disposable plastic bags, with the money obtained to be used to fight pollution
Emilewicz also said an extra sum of 180 million zloty (51 million U.S. dollars) next year will also be put into the thermo-modernization fund dedicated to the poorest, who cannot afford to replace old pollution-generating boilers. This will especially focus on inhabitants of the 33 most polluted cities.
During the accompanying Clean Air Expo, the best and most innovative ideas to help fight smog presented devices for monitoring air quality, modelling solutions, or innovative air purifiers.
Meanwhile, Smogathon 2017, held in Krakow between Nov. 24 and 27, was an important initiative that brought together start-ups from all over the world to fight air pollution through technology.
This year, 120 inventors competed for 25,000 U.S. dollars in cash, and a 75,000-U.S.-dollar contract to implement their idea in Krakow, to find the best solutions to solve the smog problem. In 2017, the most-wanted project categories included indoor and outdoor air purifying, household power and heat generation and energy storage, and new ways of smog mapping, predicting and prevention.
The 2017 winner of the Grand Finale of Smogathon Global Edition, was Artveoli, a company that makes artistic air panels that create fresh indoor air based on photosynthesis. Modern design flat panels remove excess buildup of carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen, improving indoor air quality in homes, offices, schools, hospitals and other closed environments.
According to the Polish Smog Alert, Polish air quality standards were repeatedly in excess in the winter season. In some places, benzo(a)pyrene concentrations in the air are several times higher than the safe levels defined by EU law. The poor air condition is responsible for 45,000 premature deaths in the country and numerous health problems.