Traffic-related Emissions and Immissions 2016



As part of the new Clean Air Plan 2018-2025, investigations were conducted into the effectiveness of additional measures on air quality. The maps on air pollution along primary roads introduced here are available online. This enables the user to view the current traffic and air pollution situation, as well as the impact of specific sets of measures on the same for each section of the primary road network.

Comprehensive documentation is available online on all major aspects of the new Clean Air Plan. The present document will therefore only outline a few fundamental concepts.

Air Quality

Air Quality in Berlin could be improved substantially in recent years. High levels of air pollution persist, however, particularly in adverse weather conditions, posing a threat to the health of Berliners.

For some years now, motor vehicle traffic has been a major cause of both noise emissions and of air pollution in key problem areas of Berlin. This is especially the case since the contribution of other groups of polluters to air pollution in Berlin has decreased considerably. As a result, Berlin is already able to comply with many of the ambitious European air quality limits reliably.

Pollutant levels recorded for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air near to the ground still remain above the limits, however. Therefore, supplementary measures need to be conducted also in the future to be able to comply with the limits permanently in accordance with the legal provisions (Article 47 Federal Immission Law (BImSchG) and Article 27 of the 39th Federal Immission Ordinance (BImSchV)).

The measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) show a high level of pollution along primary roads. The annual mean limit of 40 µg/m3, which has been mandatory since 2010, was exceeded every year between 2010 and 2017 (inclusive). The short-term limit, on the other hand, was met reliably. The limit of 200 µg/m3 per hour may only be exceeded a maximum of 18 times a year. Between 2011 and 2017, the 200 µg/m3 limit per hour was exceeded for between 1 and 8 hours on average. The highest values were generally measured at Hardenbergplatz.

In urban residential areas and on the outskirts, however, the NO2 annual limit is met without fail.

For the year 2017, the NO2 annual means in Berlin can be summarised as follows:

  • measured continually at stations near roads: 41 to 49 µg/m3
  • in the urban background: 20 to 28 µg/m3
  • on the outskirts: 12 to 14 µg/m3
  • measured by passive collectors along roads: 40 to 63 µg/m3 (highest measurement at Leipziger Straße between Friedrichstraße and Charlottenstraße).

In 2018, the NO2 annual mean remained below the limit of 40 µg/m3 at a measurement station close to traffic for the first time, i.e. at Frankfurter Allee with an NO2 mean of 37 µg/m3. Some of the values recorded at the remaining stations close to traffic, however, continued to far exceed the EU limit in 2018. Stricter emission limits for vehicles have not led to the decrease in nitrogen dioxide emissions expected. The only exception is the station at Hardenbergplatz. There, the NO2 annual mean dropped from 62 µg/m3 in 2014 to 43 µg/m3 in 2018. This was achieved by retrofitting BVG (Berlin Transport Services) buses with NOx reduction systems and modernising the bus fleet. A decrease was also achieved at Leipziger Straße, another road that is heavily travelled by buses.

Model calculations are used to supplement measurements in order to assess air quality. Whereas measurements only reflect a limited area near the measurement site, model calculations reflect pollutant levels for the entire urban area. Traffic and emission data from 2015 were used to assess the baseline air quality. It is still the most recent complete data set. In the meantime, a 30 km/h speed limit was introduced along some sections of the primary road network. Therefore, a reduction of 15 %, was taken into account in these cases, which was established during evaluations at Schildhornstraße. As regards the meteorological baseline data, the year 2015 was used to calculate the current state and forecasts for the years 2020 and 2025.

The model distribution of NO2 levels in the urban background in 2015, shows the highest levels in urban areas. This is where the values range mostly from 22 to 25 µg/m3. Here, the high density of the primary roads leads to an increased pollution spread across the whole area. Towards the outskirts of the city, values drop to about 10 to 15 µg/m3.

NO2 levels along primary roads, which are derived by adding the urban background pollution to the additional pollution caused by local traffic, present a more detailed picture. According to the model calculations [for the base year 2015], 411 sections with a total length of about 60 km exceed the NO2 annual mean limit, which has to be observed since 2010. Approximately 50,000 people are affected by these exceeded limits.