In southern Poland, the EU is funding the replacement of more than 500,000 polluting coal-fired stoves in households. The new boilers – which cut smog-creating pollutants – are one example of how the EU is helping to improve air quality throughout Europe.
In the EU, air pollution is responsible for around 400,000 premature deaths every year. Poor air quality can lead to lung cancer, strokes, heart attacks and acute respiratory diseases in children.
Poland’s Małopolska region, along with parts of Czechia and Slovakia, is one of Europe’s most polluted areas. Pollution is particularly heavy in winter when, to keep their homes warm, people burn coal and sometimes waste, releasing smog into the air that threatens people’s health.
Through an EU funding scheme, Poland’s Małopolska region is combating air pollution from within the household. Air quality experts and activists are making sure that homes have the guidance and means to replace outdated coal-fueled boilers with cleaner, cost-efficient heating systems. So far, 27,000 boilers have been replaced. This region-wide transition is a big step in addressing Poland’s toxic pollution levels, one which holds promise for other areas of Europe battling severe air pollution.
“In my region, air pollution counts for PLN 3 billion (around €800 million) per year in health costs. With EU funding, we’ve hired 60 clean air experts and scientists to promote the boiler replacement initiative in 55 municipalities of Poland. These ‘eco-advisors’ visit schools, community and medical centres, building momentum among residents to burn less coal and consider upgrading their boilers to ones that are less damaging to the environment. By 2023, we hope to replace all old boilers in the Małopolska region.” - Tomasz Pietrusiak (Environment department, Marshal Office of the Małopolska region).
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