Over 40,000 Poles die each year from smog, also known as the “silent killer”.

The cost of treating people with health problems caused by smog amounts to 30 billion euros per year. There are more and more solutions appearing to improve air quality in Poland, such as building thermal modernization programs, subsidies for replacing old boilers with the latest generation solutions, and the installation of air quality sensors.

One aspect of the discussion about the threat of smog is often overlooked. The problem is usually talked about based on air measurements taken outside, without observing the concentration of harmful emissions inside buildings. However, according to the “National Air Quality Report”, the situation inside buildings may be even more dangerous than outside.

The report was prepared for SFM Filters Łuczak clients based on research conducted over a 12-month period (2018/2019) throughout Poland. It covered over 200 objects, including shopping malls, office buildings, schools, hotels, public utility buildings, and factories. The collected data shows that in almost four out of ten buildings, the air inside is worse than outside.

For example, in a school in Kamionki in February 2019, located in the Wielkopolska region, a concentration of 148 μg/m3 for PM2.5 and 178 μg/m3 for PM10 was recorded, while the concentration of particles outside the building was 122 μg/m3 for PM2.5 and 145 μg/m3 for PM10. The daily norms established by the World Health Organization (WHO) allow for a concentration of particles of up to 50 μg/m3 for PM10 and 25 μg/m3 for PM2.5. This means that in the above case, the limits were exceeded nearly 300 times.

Out of 232 surveyed objects, 91 had worse air quality than outside conditions. Three out of ten shopping malls, office buildings, and apartments have worse air quality inside than outside. Every other surveyed factory, tenement house, or residential building does not provide adequate protection against smog. For each type of space in which research was conducted, higher internal pollution was prevalent in 58% of workspaces (factories, manufacturing plants), 56% of medical facilities (including clinics, hospitals), 55% of sports and recreation facilities, 50% of tenement houses and residential blocks, 45% of restaurants, 38% of cultural spaces (including theaters, cinemas, art galleries), 33% of private homes and houses, 33% of communication spaces (including train stations, airports), 29% of spaces for children and youth (including schools, kindergartens, nurseries), 32% of shopping malls, 31% of offices, 27% of shops, and 20% of hotels.

Air quality in indoor spaces and facilities depends on many factors, including the season, geographic location, proximity to traffic and industry, intended use, the number of people inside, and the types of machines working inside. It is also important whether the facility has an air ventilation/filtration system. Air pollution can have natural sources (e.g., pollen, dust), as well as come from human activities (e.g., combustion processes, industry, and transport emissions).

The problem of air pollution is significant in Poland, and the “National Air Quality Report” clearly indicates the need to improve air quality in indoor spaces as well as outdoor areas.

The quality of air in indoor spaces and buildings depends on many factors, including season, geographic location, proximity to traffic routes and industrial areas, occupancy, and types of machinery operating inside. It is also important whether the facility has an air ventilation/filtration system. Air pollutants can have natural origins (such as pollen from blooming plants in spring and summer or fine sand carried by the wind) or industrial and transportation-related origins. While plant-origin dust can have an impact on the health of certain groups of people, such as allergy sufferers, other types of dust can cause a range of diseases and even lead to death.

“The scale of the problem is huge if we consider the fact that people spend up to 90% of their lives in enclosed spaces,” says Janusz Łuczak, the president of SFM Filters, citing data collected by the European Lung Foundation (ELF).

Typically, buildings have the ability to reduce outdoor air pollution. However, the composition of the air and the concentration of dust also depend on the condition of the building and the type of ventilation. In the case of air supplied by a ventilation system, we have the possibility of stopping most of the harmful pollutants. By selecting appropriate filters, we can not only take care of the air quality but also optimize costs. For example, in the Józef Polikarp Brudziński Children’s Clinical Hospital in Warsaw, the introduction of a newer generation of synthetic Nanowave filters made it possible to reduce the number of filter replacements by 550 units per year