Is there really air pollution in major European cities?

Are air pollution limits exaggerated?

Pollutant hotspot in a big city
Pollutant hotspot in a big city

In terms of air pollution, for example, Stuttgart is considered an “intensive city”, what does that mean? Does that mean that the air in all of Stuttgart, from Vaihingen to Zuffenhausen and from Bad Canntstatt to Weilimdorf, that the air is extremely polluted over all these parts of the city? Or does this mean that the air “only” in Stuttgart-Mitte is extremely polluted? Neither is correct, if a city exceeds limit values, it does not mean that the air is bad everywhere, but it means that the air may only be very high at a few pollutant hotspots in the city, i.e. at one or two measuring stations pollutant readings!

An example of this: Recently, an article on air pollution in Berlin was published in a specialist magazine, in which the air quality in the capital Berlin was equated with the air quality at the Berlin pollutant hotspot Leipziger Strasse. One has very little to do with the other!

We ourselves, in our company, travel around across Europe every month to measure air quality in a wide variety of production areas. In such rooms there are often up to a hundred production machines, a handful of which then crystallize out as a pollutant hotspot. But just as little are these handful of production machines representative of the air quality in the entire production area, just like the pollutant hotspot Leipziger Strasse in Berlin isn’t representative of the air quality of our capital.

Indoor air in a production room in industry
Indoor air in a production room in industry

Such reporting often tries to influence the opinion of the population. When something similar was done in a district town in South-Germany, to equate the air quality of a pollutant hotspot with the air quality of the city, the mayor was asked and his response was: “We are aware of this, but we want to get if possible very high levels of pollutants, right? ” However, we should not agree with this and we think that what we really want is more transparency and real clarification on factual issues, hence this article and comments.

Surely the measured values at pollutant hotspots such as Leipziger Strasse in Berlin or the Neckartor in Stuttgart are very interesting and important measured values, furthermore the EU even demands to set up measuring devices at such hotspots, however how some of them are interpreted and reproduced in the press , is really far from objectivity!

The interesting thing is that indoors, in production rooms, this topic is considered in exactly the opposite way! For example, for a huge mechanical engineering production company with several thousand square meters of production space, there may be a limit of 10 mg of pollutants for one cubic meter of indoor air in the production area. The limit values in Berlin and Stuttgart range from 40 to 50µg (0.04 to 0.05mg) pollutants for one cubic meter of city air!

It should be noted that if you would do exactly the same in production rooms as when determining air pollution in large cities, i.e. simply by using the pollution of one or two hotspots as air pollution of the entire room, then we have to be exposed to up to 500mg of pollutants for indoor air in production areas for a cubic meter! That would be orders of magnitude of 500,000µg per cubic meter of indoor air!

How and whether such a consideration really makes sense should be discussed in a really transparent and honest way, but please not as in our recently hysterical environmental protection discussions!

Aerial view in Berlin far away from a pollutant hotspot
Aerial view in Berlin far away from a pollutant hotspot