If you feel like you’re breathing easier in Krakow this winter, it’s not an illusion: smog levels in the city are decreasing.
The reason is likely a ban on coal- and wood-burning furnaces which went into effect in September of this year. The city subsidized the replacement of several thousand old heaters, which were likely contributing close to half of local air pollution. Already 1,430 inspections have been carried out by city guards, resulting in 19 fines.
Krakowski Alarm Smogowy, a group formed in 2013 to raise awareness of the problem and pressure the city to take action, has acknowledged the positive change, while insisting that more needs to be done. There are still around 4,000 old furnaces (belonging to violators of the ban or people with special circumstances which make them difficult to remove), and the prevalence has many causes, including other sources (like cars) as well as urban layout.
Therefore, although the overall quality of Krakow air is improving, there are still bad days on which it is advisable to use a smog mask or avoid going outside. You can check the smog levels daily using the Airly-powered widget in the right-hand sidebar of The Krakow Post website.