Dusts - Emissions and Pollutions


It sits on the shelf and makes us sneeze when we wipe it off: grey dust. These annoying miniscule particles are everywhere. But dust is not just dust. The particles come in different sizes and consist of a variety of substances. Fine dust in the air, or floating dust, for example, is almost invisible – unlike the dust covering granny’s old vase.

Dust always tells a story. In the 1980s, pollution increased significantly in Berlin – due to the energy crisis and the resulting shift back from oil to coal heating. Combustion plants in the former GDR also used raw brown coal. At the time, power plants were the main sources of dust, followed by today’s main cause of dust, i.e. traffic, and the use of fuels in private households (domestic heating).

Today’s pollution is much lower because coal is rarely used for heating these days and the flue gas dust removal has been greatly improved in larger plants. This is good news, as, unseen as it may be, dust is not harmless. It irritates our bronchi, may cause allergies and contains pollutants. Humans and nature suffer alike, as dust may contribute to soil acidification, for example.

The Berlin Senate maintains emission databases for the three main causes of dust to provide a differentiated overview and to illustrate how to counteract them. Access the results and mappings of dust levels from 1989 and 1991 here.