Air pollution prevails in Germany

In 2014, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceeded the EU air quality limit value at about half of the monitoring stations on busy roads, according to preliminary evaluations by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA). This share is expected to increase significantly when additional data from more stations will be incorporated in May.

Motor vehicle emissions are the main source of nitrogen oxides, and the Euro 6 car emission standards that came into force last year must help to cut these emissions in real-life driving, not just in laboratories, the head of the UBA, Maria Krautzberger said.

Another air pollutant of concern is particulate matter (PM). Although PM concentrations were lower than in previous years, EU air quality standards for PM10 were exceeded at one-tenth of traffic-related monitoring sites. However, almost half of all stations exceeded the World Health Organizations’ recommended PM10 level, which is tighter than the EU limit value.

Maria Krautzberger sees no reason for complacency: “Despite lower PM levels, the health risk remains. As there is no safe threshold level for PM, health damage occurs even at low concentrations.”

UBA notes that the share of PM emissions from household wood combustion is increasing, and in the winter months may contribute up to 25 per cent of PM concentrations.

Source: UBA press release, 9 February 2015

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