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Berlin Environmental Atlas

09.01 Environmental Justice (Edition 2015)

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Complementary Indicator 3: Health and Environmental Risks/ Risk Communication
(SenStadtUm 2015d)

More and more people suffer from health impairments whose cause they see in the environment. In a complex and interlinked world, they have great difficulties in assessing risks to environment and health in their immediate residential surroundings and neighbourhood. The scientific evaluation and the societal perception of health risks from environmental effects can differ, and thus their impact and acceptance are sometimes quite contested in politics, science, economy and the population. Moreover, the criteria according to which experts and the public assess health risks are often very heterogeneous. The reason for this lies in the multitude of different risk and impact factors. This can result in insecurity in the population, and in a loss of trust in the authorities. With a view to the health-oriented environmental justice approach, it is important to render processes of risk assessment transparent and more efficient.

Especially in neighbourhoods with a high multiple load, the persons affected should be enabled to understand the risk circumstances to the extent that they can recognise the consequences and make (individual) assessments. The persons affected should not need any expert knowledge for this purpose, but should rather be enabled to understand the consequences as far as they are known. With a view to making the special risks easily discernible, a map of the complementary indicator "Health and Environmental Risks" has been developed based on the available data (cf. Fig. 5).

UIn order to indicate the areas with particular health and environmental risks, the planning areas were examined whose core indicators noise load and air pollution – deviating from the employed 3-level classification (good, medium, bad) – exhibit a load clearly above this classification. The noise load and air pollution are especially high in these planning areas, and thus the values are particularly significant from the perspective of environmental medicine. "Simple residential character" according to the rent index (cf. Fig. 4) was chosen as another risk indicator. These are mainly areas in the densely built-up inner-city area, with few green and open spaces, predominantly untended cityscape, often bad building condition, and in some parts strong impairments due to industrial-commercial uses. "remature mortality from disorders of the respiratory system" was used as a fourth risk indicator related to air pollution (see also the statements regarding complementary indicator 4).


Fig. 5: Distribution of health and environmental risks at the level of the planning areas in Berlin (SenStadtUm 2015d)

At the level of the entire city, the evaluation of areas strongly affected (high mortality combined with simple residential character) (more than 66 % of the apartments in the PLA affected) in combination with high air pollution and noise load results in the following picture: -

  • Out of 447 PLAs, altogether 19 planning areas (PLAs) are affected.
  • Out of these 19 planning areas, 8 PLAs are situated in the "extended inner-city area" (priority area for air purity according to LUP), 11 are outside.
  • Focal points in the inner-city area are: Mitte (Heidestraße, Soldiner Straße, Gesundbrunnen), Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (Wassertorplatz, Viktoriapark), Tempelhof-Schöneberg (Schöneberger Insel, Germaniagarten) as well as Neukölln (Donaustraße).

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