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Organic Gases and Vapor - Emissions and Pollutions

Summary

They might be invisible, but harmless they are not: organic gases. Many gaseous hydrocarbon compounds fall into the category of organic gases. They are produced in road traffic or through incomplete combustion of wood, coal or oil. These gases have a grave effect on our health and the environment: their poor degradability means that they accumulate in organisms – with consequences that can become very serious: some of the substances are carcinogenic and can alter your genetic make-up (UBA 2016).

Reason enough to keep a close eye on hydrocarbon pollution in Berlin’s air. However, these gases are difficult to isolate and measure – there are just too many possible hydrocarbon compounds. For this reason, the Environmental Atlas investigates the sum of hydrocarbons and is investigating benzol, which is highly toxic and found in gasoline, as an individual component.

The three main sources of hydrocarbon compounds are industry, traffic and domestic heating, i.e. fuels in private households and small businesses. The Senate maintains emission databases (only in German) for all three of these. Data that is required every four years from the operators of power, heating and cogeneration plants as well as industrial plants is used for this purpose. The emission database traffic is based on traffic surveys and data on the inventory of motor vehicles and their average road performance. For small heating systems in urban areas, which fall under the term domestic heating, estimates are made based on building data. Peruse the results and mappings from 1989 and 1991 here.