Environmental Protection in
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
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.
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.
the recent years both the local government and residents have
been mostly concerned about municipal waste management and
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.