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Piotr Dąbrowiecki, PhD, about smog and air purification

Żaneta Geltz: We have four intensive training days. We have quite a lot of subjects about the environment pollution. Do we see some kind of hysteria in Poland at the moment? Or maybe it is a trend? Or should we really worry about the environment?

Piotr Dąbrowiecki, doctor of medical sciences, allergist and GP:
For sure, it is not hysteria. It is good that the world of medicine finally got interested in the data that we have been getting for years from, both European Environment Agency and from WHO, World Health Organisation.

PD: This data is terrifying as more than 50 000 people in Poland die because we breathe in polluted air. We are number one in terms of benzoapyrene concentration in Europe and we are practically number one, sometimes we swap places with Bulgaria, in terms of particulate matter. Both of these elements have huge impact on our respiratory system. Especially particulate matter that can redirect our immunological system so that our respiratory system has allergic reactions. And we know that we have epidemic of allergic diseases both in Poland and in Europe.

ŻG: Does it mean that healthy people can become allergic patients even as soon as tomorrow?
PD: Maybe not tomorrow. The beginning actually occurs very early as we all breathe with air. We have a heating season every year in our climate zone.

PD: And again we emit huge amounts of particulate matter, benzoapyrene and other particles which very slowly send stimuli to our respiratory system, upper respiratory tract, lower airways and they even have impact on our circulatory system so it is a very comprehensive operation. Thus we have such a high number of deaths. It clearly shows how harmful the polluted air is.

PD: This, 2017, year we evidently saw the increase in people suffering from asthma or allergies.
ŻG: So there is an increase?

PD: Definitely. There are also more people who are hospitalised because of asthma, dyspnoea caused by particulate matter and because of heart problems. It all comes to a logical whole. It is all connected and we cannot ignore it.

ŻG: So what do you recommend for allergy patients? Should they buy air purifier or masks? What should they do?

PD: Masks are very trendy now. We shouldn’t choose a mask on our own. A doctor should that. If we think that our child should wear a mask, we should ask a doctor if that’s true. For example very small children don’t benefit from masks as they suffer from respiratory failure.

ŻG: Because the mask is not suitable for them.

PD: Yes, the mask was not chosen properly. So small children should stay at home when the concentration of pollution is high. Whereas when we cannot fence off ourselves, an air purifier is a good idea, of course a good quality air purifier with HEPA filter. Carbon filter is also good as it absorbs aromatic hydrocarbons which are responsible for inflammation in upper and lower airways. It is very important.

ŻG: Thank you.

* Symposium of Polish Allergology Association in Wisla, May 2017.