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Berlin Environmental Atlas

03.12 Long-Term Development of Air Quality (2018 Edition)

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For a detailed and complete representation of the long-term development of air pollution in Berlin, numerous separate maps are presented, which

  • both evaluate the findings of the Emissions Register since 1989 (in a grid of 1x1 km),
  • and display all available measurements of the Berlin Clean Air Measurement Network BLUME for selected parameters (annual mean values, and/or exceedings of limit or target values) since measuring began in 1975.

This air quality archive contains the results of data gathering for particular parameters and measurement stations over a period of more than 40 years.

The Emissions Register for industry, domestic heating and transport, which was developed in 2015, unites the previously separate presentations of the individual polluter groups in one map. This map, titled "Emissions 2015", is available in the Geoportal (cf. Map view).


In order to comply with air pollution limits, suitable measures for reducing air pollution permanently should be taken. These measures should address any polluters that contribute to exceeding the immissions limits, based on the principle of proportionality and the pollution share. This requires detailed knowledge of all Berlin emissions. § 46 of the BImSchG thus stipulates the keeping of an emissions register.

Dispersion calculations based on this register are used to determine the share of the individual polluter groups contributing to the measured air pollution.

The emissions of the relevant pollutants nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matters (PM10, PM2.5) are determined for the following polluter groups for the period 1989 to 2015:

  • plants requiring a permit (industrial plants)
  • heating systems not requiring a permit (domestic heating, small business)
  • motor vehicle traffic

On the basis of the emissions data for the two air parameters nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matters (PM, PM2.5) comparably available on all polluter groups, the present maps illustrate the development since 1989. In order to do justice to current developments, the following changes have been taken into account for the survey year 2008/2009:

  • First, sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions are no longer shown, since SO2 has for years stagnated at a low level, and is no longer relevant for clean air.
  • Second, observation series have been initiated in the Environmental Atlas with regard to the emissions of PM10 and PM2.5. This is called for by their great relevance for public health, and the fact that air quality limit values have been exceeded.

The data from the 2015 Emissions Register also served as the basis for updating the Clean Air Plan, 2011-2017, which describes the additional measures to further improve air quality and to reduce as far as possible the period and extent of exceedance of the limit values.


The European guidelines for air quality list a large number of substances which burden the atmosphere especially strongly due to increased anthropogenic production. Throughout the EU, it is necessary to monitor and decrease this extensive phenomenon, and to restrict the environmental damage it causes. The EU Air Quality Directives contain specific immissions values as limit or threshold values, and also target values which are to be attained within a certain period. These values are oriented toward those of the World Health Organisation (WHO), to limit the impairment to human and animal health, and to protect the flora and fauna from environmental hazards (cf. Tab. 3).

The EU Air Quality Directive has been implemented into national law in Germany as the Federal Immission Protection Law (BImSchG), under § 44-46a, under which Berlin is mandated to measure and to publish the measurement results for all atmospheric parameters which may be dangerous for human beings and/or nature. These include: particulate matters (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), benzene and ozone (O3). For most of these atmospheric parameters, there are limit values and supplementary tolerance margins (i.e., a sliding scale of annual steps towards attainment of the limit). If these limits are not complied with, special measures must be taken to reduce immission concentrations. This includes the above mentioned Clean Air Plan 2011-2017 (only in German) in particular, which details the required measures.

Special attention is to be paid to all polluters and emissions, which contribute to a considerable degree to exceeding the immissions values.

To summarise, these immisions values calculated for the Berlin air provide a basis for:

  • the calculation of statistical values of the atmospheric pollution load for evaluating the air quality by means of limit and target values,
  • the determination of the pollutant load for permit procedures under the Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control (TA Luft),
  • investigation into the causes of atmospheric pollution load,
  • the tracing of the effectiveness of measures to clean the air, and,
  • providing information for the public.

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