Sulfur Dioxide - Emissions and Pollution 1991


In winter, we are snug as a bug in a rug and can switch on the light at night. Without energy, life would be rather unpleasant. When refineries and power plants burn coal and oil, however, pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) are produced. This gas irritates our mucous membranes, may cause respiratory problems and damage plants. The ecosystem suffers, too: soils and waters may become acidic. Even buildings may suffer damage.

Berlin has been aware of and working on it for decades. Sulphur dioxide levels have dropped significantly over the past 25 years, due to the reconstruction and the shut-down of industrial plants and the installation of flue gas desulphurisation plants in power plants. Since 2004, the sulphur dioxide immission – i.e. the level of pollutants in the outside air – has settled at an annual average between two and four micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) in the city area. This means that the sulphur dioxide levels have dropped by 96 percent compared to 1989 (SenUVK, only in German).

This substance, once the main indicator of air pollution, is therefore considered to have been successfully contained. Nevertheless, the values are still being monitored along with other air pollutants. Berlin wants to be climate-neutral by 2050. CO2 emissions from energy production and transport have therefore also been reduced for a long time.

Dive into the maps on sulphur dioxide emissions from 1991 and 1995 – divided into traffic, industry and domestic heating, i.e. the use of fuels in private households and small businesses.

The contents of this edition are historical and no longer up-to-date.