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Berlin Environmental Atlas

03.11 Traffic-Related Emissions and Immissions (Edition 2011)

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Immissions – The results of stationary measurements

Street measurement stations are operated to ascertain the pollution caused by motor vehicle traffic, in the framework of the automatic air quality measurement network BLUME. In order to comply with EU Directives and the amendments to the BlmSchG and the 39th BImSchV of 2010, resulting from those directives, revisions of the Berlin air quality measurement network are continually being carried out.
Since the concentrations of sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide have now been reduced to only a fraction of the limit values, the measurement of these substances has been correspondingly reduced. Due to the current issues at hand, more attention is at the same time being directed towards the ascertainment of particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide, particularly in the proximity of traffic.

For a detailed and complete online presentation of the long-term development of air pollution in Berlin, an archive has been established, which can be accessed via the Environmental Atlas Map "03.12 - Long-Term Development of Air Quality"

Measurement of immissions in the municipal area

In 2010, air pollutant measurement was conducted at a total of 16 measurement containers (5 at the outskirts, 5 in the inner-city background and 6 at street locations), and at 23 RUBIS measurement stations. With these miniaturized devices, benzene and soot are collected as weekly samples. In addition, passive samplers were placed at these sites to measures nitrogen oxides. These devices collect samples during a sampling period of 14 days, which are then analyzed in the laboratory; for the locations of these measurement stations, see Figure 5. The exact addresses are listed in the monthly reports on air-pollution control of the Senate Department for Urban Development (only in German).

Figure 5
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Fig. 5: Locations of the automatic container measurement stations of the Berlin Air Quality Measurement Network (BLUME), and the RUBIS measurement points, 2010

For the precise placement of sampling points and the implementation of the measurements, the following provisions of the 39th BImSchV are to be observed as closely as possible:

  • The air flow around the measurement intake should not be impeded throughout a radius of at least 270°, and there should be no obstacles that could affect the air flow in the vicinity of the measurement station, i.e., buildings, balconies, trees or other obstacles should be several meters away, and the measurement stations for air quality at the building line must be at least 0.5 meters from the nearest building.
  • Generally, the measurement intake should be placed between 1.5 m (breathing zone) and 4 m above the ground. Higher positions (up to 8 m) may be necessary under certain circumstances. A higher position may also be appropriate if the measurement station is to be representative for a larger area.
  • The measurement intake should not be positioned in the immediate vicinity of any emissions source, so as to avoid the direct intake of emissions which have not been mixed into the ambient air.
  • The exhaust outlet pipe must be positioned so that recirculation of exhaust air to the measurement intake is avoided.
  • For all traffic-related pollutants, the sampling points should be at least 25 m from the edge of major junctions, and no more than 10 m from the kerbside.

The level of measured concentrations is not solely dependent on the number of motor vehicles and the resulting emissions, but also on the air exchange conditions, which are on the one hand determined by meteorological parameters (e.g. the wind), and on the other by the type and extent of buildings. Thus, there is a high immission impact registered in streets with buildings on both sides ("canyon streets"), such as on Silbersteinstraße in Neukölln, or Schildhornstraße in Steglitz, while lower pollution concentrations are found at the city motorway, which carries a noticeably higher traffic volume. Figure 6 shows typical pollution distribution in a canyon street. Such distribution develops if the wind direction (above roof level) leads from the measurement point towards the road, resulting in the formation of a turbulence in the canyon street. This blows the motor vehicle emissions to the side of the road where the measurement station is located.

Figure 6
Fig. 6: Pollution distribution on an "canyon street", with the measurement range as per 39th BImSchV, and the receptors used for calculation with the IMMISem/air "canyon street" model

Long-term trend of NO2 concentration in the municipal area

The results of the measurements carried out in 2010 throughout Berlin indicate the following long-term trend (cf. Figure 7):

  • A clear drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations was achieved around 1995 by equipping the Berlin power stations with denitrification facilities and the introduction of the regulated catalytic converters for gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • NO2 pollution has hardly changed at all during the past ten years at any of the three station categories shown. The values of heavily-travelled streets (red curve) are still considerably above the EU annual average limit value of 40 µg/cu.m.
  • The expected reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions due to the improvement in exhaust gas technology in vehicles has not included any reduction in nitrogen dioxide pollution.

Figure 7
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Fig. 7: Long-term trend of nitrogen dioxide values in Berlin
(more information provided under Long-Term Development of Air Quality)

[Statistical base of the Figure is also available as Excel-File (MS-Excel is required).]

Long-term trend of PM10 concentration in the municipal area

Figure 8 shows the development of PM10 and total particulate concentrations in Berlin and the surrounding areas over the past more than 20 years (in 1997, the measurement system was changed from overall dust to particulates [PM10]).
The red curve shows pollution at three measurement stations near traffic, while the blue and dark green lines show the concentrations at three measurement stations in populated areas of the inner city, and at five measurement points on the outskirts of the city.

Figure 8
[Approx. 9 KB size.]

Fig. 8: Long-term trend of PM10 and total particulate concentrations in Berlin, and number of exceedance days
(more information provided under Long-Term Development of Air Quality)

[Statistical base of the Figure is also available as Excel-File (MS-Excel is required).]

A comparison of the curves reveals the following noteworthy points:

  • The PM10 concentrations on the outskirts of Berlin and in the rural areas of Brandenburg around the city had by 2003 already reached approx. half the PM10 pollution level on major Berlin inner-city streets. By 2010, due to a continual annual mean drop in concentrations in the traffic sector, the ratio between the outskirts and the major inner-city streets then settled at approx. 2:3.
  • The drop in particulate values which continued throughout the ‘90s has not continued during the past few years. By contrast, the soot pollution level on major streets declined continuously from 1998 to 2004, by almost 40 %, one cause being the improvements in exhaust gas technology in the vehicles, including those of the bus fleet of the Berlin Transport Company (BVG).
  • The annual mean for fine particle pollution near traffic has since 2004 been below the EU limit of 40 µg/cu.m. However, before 2006 and after 2009, the more stringent 24-hour limit was exceeded on some occasions. The 24-hour limit of 50 µg/cu.m. is not to be exceeded more than 35 times per calendar year. The decrease in the annual mean value and the number of exceedance days in 2007 and 2008 is also attributable to favourable meteorological conditions, and to the establishment of the Environmental Zone. In 2010, the number of exceedance days above 50 µg/cu.m. would have been higher by about 10 days without the Environmental Zone.
  • The annual variation of PM10 levels is similar at all stations. In particular, the clear resurgence of PM10 levels in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and since 2008 is a phenomenon that has appeared at the same time throughout the city, as well as at stations located on the outskirts of the city. The cause is hence not primarily to be found in Berlin's PM10 emissions; but is rather attributable to unfavourable weather conditions (a large number of wintertime low-exchange southerly and south-easterly wind situations) and the large-scale transport of particulate matter.

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