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Berlin Environmental Atlas

09.01 Environmental Justice (Edition 2015)

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Core Indicator 2: Air Pollution
(Kindler, A., Franck, U. 2015)

Especially in urban areas, traffic, industrial and commercial emissions as well as private household emissions contribute to a higher degree of air pollution, outdoors and indoors (for example fine particulate matter (PM10, PM2,5, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) or ozone (O3)). After contact with the mucous membranes (as O3) or absorption via the respiratory system, the pollutants can impact human health; diseases of the respiratory system, higher risk of lung cancer or negative effects on the heart and/or circulatory system are worth mentioning here.

The goal of the investigation was to determine and assess the air pollution with fine particulate matter (PM2,5) and nitrogen dioxides (NO2) in the 447 planning areas. First, the pollution with fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide had to be identified per PLA, in order to be able to make statements regarding the different concentrations of these air pollutants and their spatial distribution within the State of Berlin. Using these results, the air pollution per PLA was assessed in a subsequent step. For the purpose of examining a possible relationship between the social condition of the population and the exposure in the PLAs, information from the Social Urban Development Monitoring was combined with the air pollution and analysed. In the context of spatial distribution and environmental justice, this is meant to provide a basis for possible courses of action for reducing air pollution and minimising health risks, as well as increasing the quality of life and well-being of the population. As a result, an evaluation of the combined air pollution with PM2,5 and NO2 of all planning areas in the pollution categories "high", "medium" and "low" is available.

The spatial distributions of both PM2,5 and NO2 show the expected increase in concentration from the periphery of the city towards the centre and the environmental zone, with a tendency to slightly higher values especially of NO2 to the southeast of the environmental zone. The increase in pollution towards the centre also becomes evident when the PLAs are assessed according to their total pollution with PM2,5 and NO2.

In the framework of this environmental justice oriented investigation, the classification of the pollution was conducted according to absolute values, but relative to the air pollution existing at the time of the investigation (SenStadt 2011a). In all, 109 PLAs (24 %) were exposed to a high, 259 PLAs (58 %) to a medium and 79 (18 %) to a low air pollution with PM2,5 and NO2 in 2009.

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