An interesting thing about air quality measurements in Poland (thread on Twitter)
„(…) Oddly enough, most measurement points are located in our country. Basically, there are two types of measurement points. State-owned and those made by Airly. State-owned are marked with squares, and Airly’s with circles. There are much more of the latter and at first glance they represent worse air quality on average than state measurement points.”
„Apart from Poland, a significant number of Airly points is actually only in London. The total number of measurement points, as you can see on the first map, is highly diversified. Most of them are located in Poland. Measuring points were marked all over Rome. Meanwhile, only in the center of Warsaw there are several dozens of them.“
„(…) A more thorough analysis shows not only that the air quality in Poland does not have to be significantly worse than elsewhere but is often even better. Comparing Warsaw and Antwerp in the same hours, we see that the air in the Belgian city is of lower quality, much worse than in Krakow or Katowice, which are famous for their smog and dustiness. Despite this, no one counts cities in the West as polluted air, and yet, according to indications, there are often more harmful substances in it.”
„(…) What is important is the different indications between the Airly sensors and those installed by the state. This can be seen, for example, in the example of Toruń, where state sensors indicate good or average air quality, and Airly sensors only average.“
Tucholski, Marek. “An interesting thing about air quality measurements in Poland.” Thread on Twitter, 25 Jan. 2023, https://twitter.com/tucholski_marek/status/1618248060395716612.
One of the first complaints is that Poland has the most sensors, which may give the impression that the air quality is worse here. However, such a disproportion in the placement of Airly sensors should not surprise us. Airly is a Polish company founded in Krakow and thanks to grants, there are so many sensors in Poland (which you can read about on the company’s website). It has been pointed out that many of the sensors are in London. After checking the company’s website, this shouldn’t come as a surprise either – Airly’s investors include London-based companies (e.g. First Minutecapital). All Airly collaborations are described on their official website, so (on their basis) you can determine why the number of sensors varies from country to country.
The second complaint is that the Airly sensors show a different level of pollution than the sensors of the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection (one of the offices of the Polish government administration). The MP uses a map screenshot from the Airly application, which shows that in Częstochowa state sensors (square symbol) show better air quality than Airly sensors (circle symbol). In this way, he tries to prove that the Airly sensors make the air in Poland worse than really is.
However, when you use the application and check the Airly and state sensor, you can notice significant differences. Two types of sensors measure different types of dust. The Airly sensor measures PM10 and PM2.5 and the State sensor measures PM10. Just enter the graph for the selected sensor to see the differences. Both sensors show good data, but it makes no sense to compare them with each other, because they take into account different types of pollutants.
Due to inaccurate checking of the data, they were misinterpreted. Therefore, it is worth remembering how important fact-checking is.
about the source:
Marek Tucholski is Polish political scientist and politician of Ruch Narodowy (the National Movemen) and Konfederacja (the Confederation). The analyzed thread was posted by him on his official Twitter profile. In the description on Twitter, he has written „politics, energy, freedom, justice, nation“, which are the main topics he addresses. Konfederacja – the coalition to which Tucholski belongs – represents views belonging to right-wing currents such as national conservatism; it is also Euroskeptic.