68% of employees are considering changing the workplace due to smog. Launch of the 2nd edition of “Business vs Smog” programme


According to a survey conducted among the employees of companies involved in the second edition of the “Business vs Smog” programme, as many as 68% are considering or have considered changing their job due to poor air quality in the town or city where they work. Since smog is also becoming an increasingly serious challenge for employers, more than twice as many organisations as in the year before have decided to take part in the second edition of this project. The “Business vs Smog” programme is an initiative of PwC, implemented in cooperation with 26 companies under the auspices of the Krakow Smog Alert and the ASPIRE Association, as well as under the honorary patronage of the Małopolskie Voivodeship Marshal.

More than 2,400 people participated in the survey conducted among the employees of companies associated under the “Business vs Smog” project. As many as 68% admitted that they are considering changing their current jobs due to poor air quality in the town or city where they work. At the same time, nearly 80% keep track of information about the air quality at their place of residence and 87% believe that actions of public stakeholders within the scope of air quality improvement are insufficient.

On the one hand, smog has negative impact on our health and quality of life; on the other hand — it also more and more frequently becomes a decisive factor when we choose our workplace. As a business, we are facing the enormous task of raising awareness among children and youth, and indirectly also their parents, so that they put more emphasis on environmental protection. Since we have doubled the number of companies involved in the ‘Business vs Smog’ programme, our impact is going to be even stronger.

Bartosz Jasiołek, partner at PwC

The success of the previous edition of the programme (volunteers trained nearly 10 thousand children in schools and kindergartens) piqued the interest in education on the subject of smog among companies in Poland. As a result, a total of 29 organisations joined the 2nd edition of “Business vs Smog”: ABB, Airly, Akamai, Alexander Mann Solutions Poland, Amer Sports, Amway, Aon, Assa Abloy, Grupa CANPACK, Capita, Cisco Systems, Ecolab, Euroclear, Herbalife, Hitachi Vantara, HSBC, IAG GBS, Innogy, Jacobs, Krakowski Alarm Smogowy, Maxima Europe, Motorola Solutions Polska, PerkinElmer, PwC, Sappi, State Street Bank Polska, Stowarzyszenie ASPIRE, WilsonHCG oraz Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. The programme is implemented under the honorary patronage of the Małopolskie Voivodeship Marshal.

This edition of “Business vs Smog” will include a competition for schools and kindergartens participating in the programme. The awards will be air purity sensors, sponsored by Airly. The rules of the competition are available at www.facebook.com/bizneskontrasmog

The interest of headmasters that invite ‘Business vs Smog’ volunteers as well as involvement of the companies that joined the project demonstrate the enormous power of education and cooperation. Important social issues — and smog is one of the leading challenges in this regard — require precisely this type of joint effort.

Andrew Hallam, secretary general of the ASPIRE Association

The objective of “Business vs Smog” is to implement an employee volunteer programme in the area of educating children and youth on smog and air purity. Thanks to participation of new companies, volunteers will be able to provide training to even more schools and kindergartens, not only those from the Małopolskie Voivodeship. The classes are conducted by volunteers previously trained by the Krakow Smog Alert and the programme is adapted to different age groups. Workshop participants can learn, among others, what smog is, why it occurs, what dangers it creates to human health and life as well as what can and should be done to breathe cleaner air. The project organisers emphasise that all workshops are free.

It is extremely important for us to be aware that solving the smog problem requires a number of coordinated measures at the central and local level, but also that each of us can influence the natural environment through our everyday decisions. What we use to heat our houses or whether we encourage others to adopt eco-friendly behaviours with our own attitude also matters.

Ewa Lutomska, co-founder of the Krakow Smog Alert

The expert from the Krakow Smog Alert stressed that raising awareness among residents and their initiatives can effectively change the reality, as demonstrated by the example of Krakow, where — as a result of the residents’ determination — a complete ban on burning coal and wood was introduced, which unquestionably translated into improved air quality.

An important change introduced – among others – thanks to active attitude of the society is the modification of the regulation on alert levels. Now, the alert level will be announced when the daily concentration of PM10 reaches 150 µg/m3 instead of 300 µg/m3. This means that we will be informed about a threat sooner and remedial measures will be taken quicker. Taking such measures is necessary, in particular in small towns, since Poland continues to be a red spot on the map of Europe in terms of concentrations of the carcinogenic benzo(a)pyrene.

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Jakub Kurasz

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