Nitrous gases in Berlin

Fernsehturm, Sturm und Wolken (Ausschnitt)
Image: kyrien/

In Berlin, as in many other cities in Germany, emissions of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are too high. The limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (40 μg/m3) is exceeded – and in some cases by a significant margin – at almost all of the 29 measuring stations on roads with high volumes of traffic.

Moreover, the problem is not limited to the measuring stations. This is clearly shown by simulation calculations of air pollution for the entire 1,600 kilometres of main roads in Berlin.

In total, pollution levels that exceeded the limit value of 40 μg/m3 were recorded on almost 500 sections of road with a total length of 60 kilometres. However, a number of measures have led to an improvement. Current projections assume that in 2020 the limit value will only be exceeded on 20 sections of road with a length of approximately five kilometres. The sections of main road that are most affected continue to be Leipziger Straße, Potsdamer Straße and Hauptstraße, Reinhardtstraße, Wilhelmstraße, Brückenstraße, Tempelhofer Damm and Mariendorfer Damm. Residents and anyone who spends time along these polluted sections of road, e.g. employees in roadside shops and businesses and their customers, are affected.

What are nitrous gases?

Nitrous gases is a general term for the gaseous oxides of nitrogen: nitrogen monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Because there are several nitrogen-oxygen compounds, these gases are often referred to as NOx for short. Nitrous gases are formed when fuel is combusted in an engine. When concentrations of NOx gases are too high, this has a negative impact on human health. Particularly nitrogen dioxide represents a danger to people.