Besides the climate-damaging greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), a lot of other air pollutants are generated in daily traffic. These mainly include fine dust (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). They are not only harmful to humans and animals, but also attack plants, waters, soils and even buildings.
It is particularly critical in urban agglomerations. The exhaust fumes of passenger cars, trucks, buses, but also of construction machines, ships and diesel locomotives cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. In Germany alone, some 10,600 people die prematurely in the air as a result of the high nitrogen dioxide concentration - twice as many as the consequences of traffic accidents.

Diesel engines are the main source of nitrogen dioxide in cities.

There are valid limits for air quality in our cities. They determine how many air pollutants are acceptable in our ambient air and how much cars and buses are allowed to discharge. Although exhaust gas standards in the transport sector are becoming more and more severe every year, our air quality is rather low. On the contrary, the limit values ​​for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are always clearly exceeded at stations close to the traffic such as the Neckartor in Stuttgart.

How can the air pollution be explained despite stricter limits?

Many vehicles cause significantly more exhaust emissions on the road than the "brightened" values ​​on the test bench. With its emissions control institute, Deutsche Umwelthilfe verify real exhaust gas values ​​of passenger cars. With its complaints, DUH is fighting for the right of everyone to clean air as well as the urgently needed measures to comply with current air pollution limits as soon as possible. 

Wood burning

Wood as a renewable fuel can be a good alternative to heat from oil, gas and coal. If wood is burned, however, large amounts of soot and particulate matter particles which are harmful to health are also released. Incorrect operation and obsolete oven technology aggravate the problem. In particular, small plants such as stoves contribute disproportionately to the fine dust load. Heating with wood is therefore only useful with systems which have a similarly low fine dust output as other heating sources.

Heating with wood: a problem for health and climate

Approximately 90% of the particles produced during wood combustion are even smaller than 1 μm. These penetrate deep into the lungs and blood circulation. Particulate matter and the soot particles contained therein endanger the health. Black carbon is also the second-largest climate forcer. In Europe, combustion plants in households cause far more soot than road traffic. 

Construction machines

On construction sites many mobile devices and heavy machines with diesel engine are in use. Together, they are an important source of emissions of particulate matter and, above all, soot. Diesel cars and trucks have long been the main source of fine dust and soot. However, the emissions of construction machines and mobile units with diesel engines are now almost as high as those of road traffic. In 2010, this corresponded to an amount of 13.5 kilotons of exhaust gas-conditioned fine dust (both PM10 and PM2.5).

In construction machines, the same engines are often installed as in buses or trucks. Nevertheless, they are currently subject to considerably weaker limits. Strict limit values ​​are, however, particularly important in the case of construction machines, since, in addition to local residents, workers must be protected in particular. Who is constantly exposed to diesel exhausts from heavy equipment, has twice as much risk of cancer, according to studies of the Helmholtz Institute in Munich compared to the general population.
In the direct vicinity of diesel-driven construction machines without a closed particle filter, a significant increase in the concentration of ultrafine particles is observed. The particles significantly damage the lung and cardiovascular system of affected people.

Ein Projekt von
Partner: Deutsche Umwelthilfe
Partner: Frank Bold
Finanziert durch
Partner: Life

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