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Poland leads in benzopyrene pollution -- 40 time the WHO admissible level - GW


Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
7 Dec 2016 #1
Although the credibiltiy of anything published in what Polish patriotic circles call "the Polish-language newspaper GW", worth thinking about nevertheless is the information/allegation that Poland's benzopyrene pollution exceeds the WHO's admissible level 40 times over. A map shows Poland mostly in red. The cleanest air in terms of canceriferous benzopyrene (shown in green) is found in Portugal, parts of northern Spain, Eire and Scotland.

Anyone know why that is the case? What type of human activity generates that pollutant?
Ziemowit 12 | 3,614
7 Dec 2016 #2
What type of human activity generates that pollutant?

PiS exercising political power through its freshly acquired majority in parliament?
Atch 17 | 2,930
7 Dec 2016 #3
Vehicle exhausts, domestic wood and coal fires.

Poland has a lot of old vehicles with dodgy exhausts and of course people rely heavily on burning coal during the winter months plus many people probably also burn their rubbish. Ireland has reasonably good controls on all those things plus being so windy - I'm not joking really - and exposed to the Atlantic storms the air gets changed regularly! According to the Environmental Protection Agency air quality in Ireland in general is "good, largely as a result of our relative lack of large cities, weather and access to predominantly clean air from the south west," I would say that our geographical position is a strong factor in our air quality and that's probably the same for the other regions you mention.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
7 Dec 2016 #4
same for the other regions

Makes sense. Atlantic-wind-swept Portugal, Ireland and Scotland, plus the absence of too much heavy industry seems to be the answer. Poland, esp. the south, is in an area where valleys create an air-inversion problem which does not allow pollutants to escape and combined with valley fog creates unbearable, oftne eye-stinging smog. Małopolska (Kraków and environs) and Silesia are especially hard hit.
Atch 17 | 2,930
7 Dec 2016 #5
Yes, once again Poland suffers from being stuck in the middle because you get all the pollution both from east and west bordering countries. Do you remember the famous London smog which is no more. I think there was a particularly bad episode in the 1950s (Must look it up) when hundreds of Londoners died on an especially bad day and night. Must trot off now and see if I'm right.

Yes, just checked, 1952 for about four days in December, 4,000 dead!!
dolnoslask 5 | 2,560
7 Dec 2016 #6
domestic wood and coal fires.

A visit to a town or city here in winter reminds me of when I was growing up in the Balck Country in the early sixties, smog and all, I am lucky I don;t live in a town, people around here also think it is ok to burn plastick bottles, my plastick waste used to go missing overnight until someone explained that people burn it, I put my waste out and hour before the bin men arrive nowadays.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
7 Dec 2016 #7
famous London smog

Sorry I don't, but as an avid angler from way back I recall the moment it was announced that trout can again be found in the Thames. The clean-up of that once open sewer was reportedly so effective that even clean-water species could thrive in its waters. That was maybe 2 decades ago. Wonder if that is that still the case?
KiWo - | 23
7 Dec 2016 #8
worth thinking about nevertheless is the information/allegation that Poland's benzopyrene pollution exceeds the WHO's admissible level 40 times over

Could you please clarify where this information comes from? I've had a look at the GW archives and whilst I did find an article from this around time last year about this subject, with a map very much as you describe, it doesn't contain this information.

The article does, however, reference a European Environment Agency air quality report. This report says that the WHO doesn't have a guideline for Benzo(a)pyrene, but it does say that the EU target level is 1ng/m3 and that the average concentration found at the Polish stations was 4.6 times higher than this target level. Which is still pretty bad, but nothing like 40 times higher.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
7 Dec 2016 #9
where this information comes from

Here it is: wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/wiadomosci/7,114883,21075739,wyglada-przerazajaco-powinno-wdychamy-rakotworczy-benzo-a.html
KiWo - | 23
7 Dec 2016 #10
Thanks! For some reason that article doesn't appear to be in the actual paper (or at least not the iPad version).

The new article seems more muddled than the one from last year. The map is identical (and now out of date to the latest EEA air quality report data). Also, I think it's a bit misleading for it to talk about exceeding WHO guidelines by 40 times when the EEA's new 2016 report still clearly says:

The target value for BaP for the protection of human health is set at 1 ng/m3 (EU, 2004) as an annual mean (Table 6.1). WHO has not drafted a guideline for BaP

The report does go on to say:

The estimated reference level presented in Table 6.1 (0.12 ng/m3) was estimated assuming WHO unit risk for lung cancer for PAH mixtures and an acceptable risk of additional lifetime cancer risk of approximately 1 × 10-5 (ETC/ACM, 2011).

And it's this estimated reference level that has been exceeded by 40 times.

However, it's worth pointing out that the average concentration found at the Polish stations in the latest report was 4.8 times higher than the target value - an increase from the previous year's 4.6 times, which is definitely not a step in the right direction.

Link to the 2016 EEA report:
eea.europa.eu/publications/air-quality-in-europe-2016/download
Chemikiem 6 | 2,113
8 Dec 2016 #11
The new article seems more muddled than the one from last year.

It certainly isn't very scientific. All anyone can safely conclude from looking at the data is that the green/dark green areas have less contamination with Benzopyrene than the red/dark red areas.

it's a bit misleading for it to talk about exceeding WHO guidelines by 40 times

Exactly, given that no WHO guidelines appear to be available and no other guidelines are mentioned in that article at all. How is anyone supposed to use the little information that is supplied in the article without anything to measure it against?

The key to the colour coded map in the article shows concentrations in Nanograms per cubic metre, whilst the data for the most heavily polluted Polish cities is measured in Micrograms per cubic metre. That is a significant mathematical difference and even after converting the units, there's no figure given in the article to measure against, which renders the little info provided as basically useless. Then again, GW is not a scientific journal.
KiWo - | 23
8 Dec 2016 #12
That chart showing the most heavily Polish cities isn't showing the levels of benzo(a)pyrene but instead the overall level of 2.5μm particulate matter - another thing that the article is less than clear about.

Ironically, there is actually a WHO guideline for an annual average PM2.5 level. It's 10μg/m3, so the worst places on the list are just over four times higher than this. Which is also not great.

Still, I have at least learned that there's a Montana in Bulgaria!
Chemikiem 6 | 2,113
8 Dec 2016 #13
another thing that the article is less than clear about.

It is indeed misleading. One of the preceding paragraphs does discuss particulates of PM2.5, but specifically in reference to Benzopyrene. Then the list of Polish cities is presented, so one could be forgiven for thinking that that list too is in reference to Benzopyrene. Not very well presented data.

It's 10μg/m3, so the worst places on the list are just over four times higher than this.

It's certainly not great and I can't see it changing that much given that Poland is heavily reliant on coal as a fuel, and wood is often burnt too.

Not as bad as Russia though, just googled their statistics out of interest, and 2013 data puts their levels at over 7 times higher than that WHO guideline.

China is probably way worse.

I have at least learned that there's a Montana in Bulgaria!

Are you sure we can rely on this data ;)
KiWo - | 23
9 Dec 2016 #14
I'm not sure at all, but I want it to be true!


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