Which cities are dirtier than expected

: Particulate matter in the capital: only two cities are dirtier than Berlin

Shortly before the turn of the year it will be exciting. Will Berlin fail to meet the requirements for clean air again this year - or not? Since the beginning of January, more fine dust has been floating in the air in Berlin on 35 days than the European Union (EU) considers permissible. More days in which limit values ​​are exceeded are not permitted per calendar year. In order to improve the air in Berlin, the Senate will demand higher environmental standards for construction machinery from 2016.

Fine dust: These are microscopic particles that are harmful to health. Those who are exposed to high concentrations for longer run a higher risk of developing heart, circulatory or lung diseases. More than 50 millionths of a gram (microgram) of fine dust may float in one cubic meter of air on a maximum of 35 days per calendar year.

Last year, the Berlin measuring stations reported up to 48 days on which this value was exceeded. This year there were fewer, according to the Federal Environment Agency. Too much particulate matter was measured on Frankfurter Allee in Friedrichshain on 35 days up to Saturday - a record in Berlin. There were 29 days of exceedance on Silbersteinstrasse and 26 days on Karl-Marx-Strasse (also in Neukölln).

Traffic is a source of particulate matter

Even if Berlin has not yet broken the bar on the fourth Advent, it is still one of the cities with the highest air pollution. This year there were only more days with too much particulate matter in Stuttgart (54) and Weimar (43).

Traffic is a source of particulate matter. In Berlin, however, some of the dangerous particles come from Polish power plant and factory chimneys. If the wind blows from the east, they are carried to Berlin. Inversion weather conditions, in which there is hardly any exchange between the air layers, increase the load. But this fall, “windy weather conditions with intensive exchange” were often found, according to the administration. A westerly trend is currently predominant.

A high pressure area over Scandinavia is only expected shortly before the turn of the year, with wind blowing in from the north and then from the south-east - from Poland. If the New Year's bullying leads to additional particulate matter pollution, Berlin could break the limit after all. But that is speculation at the moment.

Further driving bans are not planned

If the state of Berlin again fails to meet the requirements for clean air, it still does not have to expect trouble with the EU. The Commission suspended its proceedings against Berlin in 2014. It is concentrated in Poland and Bulgaria, where the burden is higher. At their request, the European Court of Justice should determine that the countries have not complied with the limit values.

In order to further limit diesel soot emissions in Berlin, the Senate for construction machinery on public construction sites is calling for increased environmental standards from January 1, 2016. Excavators and loaders have to reach the level of exhaust emissions from new machines. Older devices must be retrofitted with particle filters.

Further driving bans for cars are not planned, nor are there any plans to extend the environmental zone. Most of the exemption permits ended a year ago, and further emission reductions are “not achievable”, according to the Senate.