Traffic-related Air Pollution - Hydrocarbons


If you were to travel every road in Berlin, you would have to drive a distance of approx. 5,400 kilometres. About 1,453,000 vehicles are on the road here – and the numbers are rising (AfS 2020 (only in German)). Freight traffic is also steadily increasing: whether food, waste or entire parts of houses – you will be hard-pressed to find something that is not transported through Berlin (SenUVK (only in German)). Traffic is the main cause of air pollution in the metropolis.

As a result, a whole range of different pollutants are afflicting people and the environment. Hydrocarbons play a special role. They are particularly detrimental to our health and are caused by unburnt or incompletely burnt fuel. In addition, engines release significant quantities, for example through evaporation of fuel.

Over the past decades, much has been done to improve the air in Berlin: vehicles with two-stroke engines have been culled and technical developments such as three-way catalytic converters and improved fuels have almost halved hydrocarbon emissions over the past 20 years.

The emission database for motor vehicle traffic (only in German) is maintained to facilitate the constant monitoring of pollution caused by traffic. In 1993, it was therefore possible for the first time to have a complete overview of pollution levels for the entire city. If you are interested in this subject, access relevant maps and data here.