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Environmental Protection in Krakow. 

Poland has adopted the environmental standards of the European Union or stricter in the run-up to membership. Environmentalists have always been particularly sensitive to air quality in Krakow. Monitoring stations in every part of the city constantly watch concentration of all principal pollutants in atmosphere. Yet street panels that used to display results in real time are long gone as air pollution has stayed consistently low in the recent decade against acceptable air-quality standards. 


Dismal ecological record of the communist era.

Forced industrialization under the communist rule degraded the environment in many parts of Poland, including Krakow. Particularly emissions of sulfur dioxide and other gases as well as fine particulate matter reached levels hazardous to people and damaging to historical buildings. Also water pollution and contamination of the land alarmed environmentalists. With the fall of communism the situation changed abruptly. In the early 1990s most of the polluter plants in Krakow and its environs closed and the rest have been reined in. The government introduced strict environmental regulations and has been able to enforce them. 


Current pollution in Krakow.

Almost throughout the whole year every part of Krakow meets the air-quality standards. Fine particulate matter stays within the range of the acceptable concentration. Namely, in 2019 the average PM10 level was under 40 micrograms per cubic meter (compared to 65 mcg/m3 in 2013, and 93 mcg/m3 in 2012). And the sulfur dioxide, responsible for acid rain, remains in the central Grand Square of Krakow at half the level UNESCO allows for its World Heritage Sites. Air quality in central Krakow has kept on improving for years as the city scraped most of its dirty industries and replaced coal heating with the gas one. And since 2018 the use of all solid fuels has been banned in Krakow. Nevertheless an increased levels of PM aerosols occur in summer and winter when a stable weather system with windless conditions lasts long enough.

Note: Local reports on air quality aren't accurate as, unlike London or Paris, the equipment to measure levels of fine particulate matter and other pollutants is installed in Krakow only in the most busy streets so any data mostly concern car exhaust fumes not the overall air quality in the city. More reliable is The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) which publishes up-to-date information online at, based on satellite data, plus four-day forecasts - also specifically for Krakow.  

In the recent years both the local government and residents have been mostly concerned about municipal waste management and recycling. 

Krakow – population and industry combined – produces some 52 cubic hectometers of sewage a year, almost all treated. Some 0.5 domestic sewage is dumped untreated because eight percent of Krakow’s households remain outside the municipal sewage system. Gas emissions in Krakow total 66,200 tons a year including 16,500 tons of sulfur dioxide. As regards particulate matter 99 percent of it stays retained in pollutant reduction systems. Krakow generates some 2,723,200 tons of solid waste a year of which 1,743,100 tons recycled, 795,200 ton treated, and 184,900 ton temporarily stored. 

Nature sanctuaries of Krakow. 

The city boasts 4,840 hectares of legally protected areas of unique environmental value within its limits. Nature preserves in Krakow total just over 48 hectares while landscape parks cover 4,721 hectares of the city's area. Also, there are 192 monuments of nature in Krakow.

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