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Poland: Submission to consultations on national air programme and public health bill

HEAL in Poland urged the government for greater health protection from air pollution in two strategic policy processes – the National Air Protection Programme and the Public Health Bill.

The National Program for Air Protection (KPOP), prepared by the Polish Ministry of Environment aims to improve air quality in Poland and to minimalise the health and economic impacts for the country. The document is of a strategic nature and does not have a legally binding character.

Raising the issue of air quality as a priority in the activities in 2015 by the Ministry of Environment is a positive sign. However, due to the strategic nature of the document, the activities of the Polish authorities are insufficient and inadequate to the current scale of the air quality problem. Air quality should not only be solved by a strategic document by the Ministry of Environment, but instead all ministries should be involved in reducing air pollution in Poland.

HEAL believes that even a programme of a strategic nature should have clearly defined and measurable goals, which is missing in this project. The main objective of the National Programme of Air Protection (KPOP) should be measurable with concrete and ambitious cooperation with other ministries. The document doesn’t mention the importance of coal-fired power plants as a contributor to air pollution, and industry’s role in the share of emissions.

HEAL in Poland appeals to the Ministry of Environment to set up a list of specific measures leading to more legal authorisation for local governments to implement restrictions on the use of selected solid fuels for heating purposes. Municipalities should be equipped with legal instruments for the possibility of reducing emissions from transport in cities, there should be quality standards of solid fuels and performance quality for boilers for use in households, and improvements in the quality of information on pollution for citizens. HEAL also continues to be concerned that large coal combustion plants receive exemptions to stricter pollution standards under the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive. Last but not least, funding for air quality measures should be increased.

HEAL has commented on a second document, issued by the Ministry of Health - the Public Health Bill. This Bill will be the first ever to focus on public health problems in Poland and aims to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases of the circulatory system, respiratory and cancer in the country. While improving air quality is not the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Health, the identification of environmental hazards and informing the public about the impact of the environment on health is included in the responsibilities of public health.

For the draft bill, HEAL proposes to introduce specific changes – including the need to highlight the environmental risks and conditions especially from the air pollution’s angle, strengthening inter-ministerial cooperation to fight air pollution and ensuring that environmental conditions are beneficial to health.

In its comments, HEAL has stated that the recognition of the role that the environment, and in particular air quality also needs to be included in the National Public Health Programme for 2016 to 2025, which is being prepared simultaneously with the Public Health Bill.

Originally posted on 9 June 2015

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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