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One of the "breathing lungs" installations on its way to being presented in Poland, Source: Polski Alarm Smogowy

Mobile lungs installations deliver a powerful message about air quality in Polish cities

Mobile lungs installations deliver a powerful message about air quality in Polish cities

The iconic installation of Polski Alarm Smogowy returns for another year

On the eve of the heating season, many people living in Poland are beginning to wonder: How much worse can air quality get and how bad is it for our health? A non-profit initiative aims to answer precisely these questions and moreover – to do it in a particularly thought-provoking way.

This month, Polish Smog Alert have launched once again their iconic mobile installation See what you breathe - a two-meter model of human lungs that "breathes in" air pollutants.

Raising awareness of air pollution impacts

Five mobile installations presenting a model of human lungs will appear in Polish cities as part of the latest edition of an innovative campaign by the NPO, which is a grouping of civic movements concerned with poor air quality in Poland. This time, the lungs will go to forty-one cities and towns in nine provinces, showing local communities what kind of air they breathe.

The model "breathes in" air pollutants that settle on the white matter covering the installation. After two weeks – the time the installation spends at each location - the white tissue becomes dusty and turns graphite or even black.

Breathing Lungs - Polski Alarm SmogowyBy the end of the installation’s visit, the white tissue could turn entirely black, due to air pollution. Image: Polski Alarm Smogowy

The campaign’s start traditionally coincides with Clean Air Day on 14 November when burning of coal and wood begins on a large scale in Polish homes, and with it, the smog returns as well. For 2021 the organisers have previewed to visit a record number of places before the end of the campaign in April 2022.

“We can see that this campaign is paying off. As residents watch their "lungs" turn black every day, they begin to understand that air quality matters, and that the pollutants we breathe have a negative impact on our health. We are trying to target this campaign to places where air quality is not measured and people are often unaware of how bad air they are breathing,” project coordinator Magdalena Kozłowska explained, as quoted on the campaign website.

One of the reasons for this initiative is that despite the restrictions on the use of old and emitting devices in many regions, people still have trouble adapting to the new situation and therefore, the replacement with new devices is too slow. Moreover, it aims to raise awareness about the availability of subsidies for the replacement of polluting devices and about the imminent enforcement of the anti-smog resolution.

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