Air pollution control

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The aim of the air pollution in the context of environmental protection sustainable ensure good air quality , thus a possible pollutant-free air .


Air pollution control measures can be divided into

Air pollution control measures should counteract air pollution or prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Legal requirements

The first legal requirements for air pollution control were limited to the relocation or avoidance of pollutant emissions:

  • The smoke from the furnaces of glassmakers in ancient Rome around 150 AD was so disturbing that the glassmakers were forced to move their workshops to the suburbs of Rome.
  • In the city of Cologne in 1464 was a copper - and lead smelters due to neighborhood complaints by Council Decision of continued operation of his craft in the city prohibited. In the city of Augsburg , a smelter was demolished in 1623 due to complaints from the neighborhood about unhealthy smoke and steam and the reopening outside of the city ("in a remote place away from gardens") was approved.
  • Between December 5 and 9, 1952, the worst smog catastrophe in industrial history took place in London . Soot and sulfur dioxide from chimneys and factory chimneys collected on the ground and mixed with the exhaust gases from road traffic. The toxic air mixture became so dense that pedestrians could no longer see their feet and probably killed 12,000 people. As a result of the smog catastrophe, the “Clean Air Act” was passed in 1956, which was primarily intended to drastically reduce the number of open chimneys.

The legislation in many industrialized countries aims at limit or target values ​​in order to reduce the release ( emission ) or the entry ( immission ) of pollutants via the air to a level that “does not have any significant negative effects on human health and the environment and has not caused any corresponding dangers ". An important step in this direction was the European Air Quality Framework Directive of 1996.

While a limit value must be strictly adhered to, i.e. not exceeded, a target value indicates a maximum value that can usually be reached at a certain point in time. Target values ​​are often not strictly binding.

International measures

As early as the 1970s it was recognized that national efforts to reduce emissions of air pollutants alone are not enough, since many pollutants are transported over long distances and thus also across national borders ( long-distance transport ).

1979 Geneva was Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, LRTAP) was adopted. It came into force in 1983 as the first internationally legally binding instrument to reduce emissions of air pollutants.

The Geneva Convention is currently the basis for a total of eight other important international agreements. The most important of these are:

  • the Helsinki Protocol to reduce sulfur emissions and their cross-border material flows by at least 30% (adopted in 1985, entered into force on September 2, 1987; the expanded Oslo Protocol was adopted in 1994 and came into force on August 5, 1998)
  • the Sofia Protocol for the control of nitrogen oxide emissions or their cross-border material flows (adopted in 1988, entered into force on February 14, 1991)
  • the Geneva Protocol on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) (adopted in 1991, entered into force on September 29, 1997)
  • the Aarhus Protocol on Heavy Metals (adopted in 1998, entered into force on December 29, 2003)
  • the Aarhus Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) (adopted in 1998, entered into force on October 23, 2003)
  • the Gothenburg Protocol ( multicomponent protocol ) to prevent acidification and eutrophication as well as the formation of ground-level ozone (adopted in 1999, entered into force on May 17, 2005)
The Gothenburg Multicomponent
Protocol and its predecessor agreements

The Gothenburg Protocol set limits for the annual emissions of the regulated pollutants ( SO 2 , NO x , NH 3 and VOC ) for the signatory states (practically all European states plus the USA and Canada ) for the year 2010 (reference year for the percentage reduction: 1990 ) fixed: table:

Country-specific limit values ​​for annual emissions according to the Gothenburg Protocol, which must be achieved by 2010
country Sulfur dioxide Nitrogen oxides ammonia VOC
Germany 520 kt (−90%) 1,051 kt (−60%) 550 kt (−28%) 995 kt (−69%)
Austria 91 kt (−57%) 107 kt (−45%) 66 kt (−19%) 159 kt (−55%)
Switzerland 43 kt (−40%) 79 kt (−52%) 63 kt (−13%) 144 kt (−51%)
Europe 16,436 kt (-75%) 6,671 kt (−49%) 3,129 kt (−15%) 6,600 kt (−57%)

kt = 1,000 tons

While previous protocols only looked at a single pollutant, the effects of sulfur and nitrogen compounds as well as volatile organic compounds (VOC) and ground-level ozone are considered in conjunction. The Göteborg Protocol is characterized by its cross-problem approach and is therefore also referred to as a multi-effect or multi-component protocol. Three problem areas should be defused:

  • the formation of ground-level ozone through the emission reduction of ozone precursors (nitrogen oxides, NO x and volatile organic compounds, VOC),
  • the acidification of soils and waters by reducing emissions of substances that contribute to the acidification of precipitation (SO 2 , NO x , NH 3 )
  • eutrophication (nutrient enrichment) through atmospheric nitrogen input (NO x , NH 3 )

Europe-wide agreements

In the context of the environmental policy of the European Community , the air pollution control of the member states is increasingly determined by EU guidelines. The legal instrument is usually the EU directives . EU directives must be transposed into national law by the member states within a defined period. The European Union (EU) has issued a large number of directives and subsidiary directives (downstream, in some cases specifying specifications) on air pollution control, partly as a result of international agreements. Important examples are:

  • Council Directive 96/62 / EC of September 27, 1996 on air quality assessment and control (Air Quality Framework Directive ):
This guideline obliges the member states to achieve certain air quality targets, which were defined in the subsidiary directives for individual pollutants (for example: Directive 1999/30 / EC, see below), each with fixed time limits.
  • Council Directive 1999/30 / EC of April 22, 1999 on limit values ​​for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides , particles and lead in the air (1st daughter directive):
The aim of this guideline is to set limit values ​​for the substances in the air named in the title in order to maintain or improve air quality. From January 1, 2005, stricter limit values ​​for sulfur dioxide, particles and lead will apply in accordance with this directive. For nitrogen dioxide , NO 2 , the stricter limit values ​​according to this guideline do not have to be reached until January 1, 2010.
  • Directive 2000/69 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 16, 2000 on limit values ​​for benzene and carbon monoxide (2nd daughter directive):
The objectives of this guideline are to set limit values ​​for the concentration of benzene and carbon monoxide in the air in order to avoid, prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment as a whole, assess the concentration of the substances mentioned using uniform methods and criteria, and maintain or improve them the air quality, etc. a.
  • Directive 2001/81 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain air pollutants
Compliance with the country-specific emission ceilings of the Gothenburg Protocol has been binding for the EU member states since the "NEC Directive" was passed (named after the English term for national emission ceilings )

In July 2000, with Commission Decision 2000/479 / EC on the establishment of a European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) , the European Community launched a database that is accessible to the general public and contains data on emissions from large industrial companies, intensive animal husbandry and landfills. One aim of the EPER is to encourage operators to make greater efforts to reduce their emissions by publishing the names and the associated emissions. In 2006, the European Pollutant Emission Register has been extended by Regulation 2006/166 / EC and in E-PRTR renamed (European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, Pollutant Release and Transfer Register ).

Another, more overarching measure, the Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) program, was adopted in 2001 with the aim of developing a long-term, strategic and integrated policy to protect against the effects of air pollution on human health and the environment.

In December 2005, a thematic strategy for air pollution control was adopted as part of the EU's 6th Environment Action Program .

  • Directive 2008/50 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of May 21, 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe
Art. 31 of the Air Quality Directive repealed the Directives 96/62 / EC, 1999/30 / EC, 2000/69 / EC and 2002/3 / EC on June 11, 2010, left the obligations of the member states with regard to the deadlines for implementation or This does not affect the application of these guidelines.

National measures (laws, programs)

Member States of the European Community have to implement requirements from EU directives into national law within specified deadlines.


In Germany, the above-mentioned air quality framework directive 96/62 / EC and two subsidiary directives were implemented in national law through the ordinance on air quality standards and maximum emissions (39th BImSchV) to the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) . In order to achieve the required limit values, regional air pollution control plans are drawn up that contain specific individual measures for the respective emission sources (traffic, industry, small businesses, households) to permanently reduce the emission quantities of the controlled substances. Nationwide emission specifications for plants are set out in the TA Luft (2002) and in ordinances relating to the Federal Immission Control Act.

Emission limits for motor vehicles, tank farms, petrol stations and fuel pumps:

Emission limits for plants:

In Germany, energy-related nitrogen oxide emissions fell from 2,861 kt in 1990 to 1,442 kt in 2005. Sulfur dioxide emissions fell from 5,350 kt in 1990 to 560 kt in 2005. Carbon monoxide emissions fell from 12,145 kt in 1990 to 4,035 kt in the year 2005. According to the Federal Environment Agency , sulfur dioxide emissions in 2010 were 440 kt, well below the target value. In the non- methane - hydrocarbons moderate exceedance was reported by about 4%. In contrast, the nitrogen oxide emissions of 1255 kt were significantly higher than the target. According to a preliminary evaluation according to the Federal Environment Agency, nitrogen oxide emissions in Germany in 2014 again did not comply with international requirements, if one takes into account that EU guidelines largely follow international agreements. The nitrogen oxide emissions are approximated by conversion from nitrogen dioxide measurement data. For nitrogen dioxide, for example, the critical value of the annual mean value of 30 µg / m³, which is in compliance with the EU and used to protect the environment, was exceeded at more than half of 500 measuring stations in Germany.


In Switzerland , the creation of the Federal Air Hygiene Commission (EKL) in 1962 marked the beginning of air pollution control, which was followed by the first systematic immission measurements. The oil fire control was introduced the following year. In 1967 the pollution control article was included in the federal labor law. Four years later the environmental protection article was incorporated into the federal constitution and the Federal Office for Environmental Protection BUS was created. The national observation network for air pollutants NABEL was set up in 1978, one year before the Geneva Convention (LRTAP). In 1983 and 1985 the Environmental Protection Act (USG) and the Clean Air Ordinance (LRV) followed.

United Kingdom

As a result of the smog disaster in London in 1952 , the Clean Air Act 1956 was passed, a set of measures to combat air pollution in London. Above all, the number of open chimneys has been drastically reduced. From 1968 further measures were decided.

Technical measures

Due to the legal requirements for air pollution control, the operators of systems that emit legally regulated pollutants must comply with the prescribed limit or target values. This is achieved on the one hand through process changes (integrated environmental protection) or through cleaning processes downstream of the production process ( end-of-pipe technology ). The first technical measures, e.g. B. structural changes to reduce air pollution date back to the 16th century . As early as 1550, plans were made to equip the smelting furnaces of the silver works in Bohemia with smoke and dust chambers. In 1778, the English Bishop Watson points out that when galena is melted, a large part of the lead escapes through the chimney and poisons the surrounding water and pastures. He also made a corresponding technical proposal for collecting the lead vapors. In 1878, the American doctor Elizabeth Corbett suggested that the harmful gases from the drains of the urban sewer system of San Francisco be piped into the nearest gas lanterns in order to burn them there. In 1881 the "International Exhibition of Apparatus and Devices to Avoid Smoke" takes place in London. Various methods are presented here, from using certain fuels to using glowing bodies to avoid smoke.

Modern processes for cleaning exhaust gases ( flue gases ) are used today, especially in power plants and other large emitters . Important technical processes for flue gas cleaning are

  • the flue gas desulfurization : here for example, the sulfur dioxide, SO 2 , by washing process from the exhaust stream as gypsum removed. This has made "REA gypsum" an important building material.
  • the flue gas denitrification : there is a distinction between primary and secondary measures. The primary measures aim to reduce the formation of nitrogen oxide, NO, through optimized combustion processes. The secondary measures try to reduce the content of nitrogen oxides, NO x , in the exhaust gas itself. Both selective non-catalytic processes (SNCR) (e.g. injection of ammonia, NH 3 ) and selective catalytic processes (SCR) are used here
  • Flue gas dedusting: Particles in the exhaust gas are reduced by dust collectors (e.g. surface filters or gas scrubbers )
  • the removal of mercury and organic pollutants, especially dioxins and furans , with activated carbon (as fine particles that are injected into the exhaust gas and removed in the dust collector, or as an activated carbon filter bed through which the exhaust gas flows).

Since air pollution is often noticeable in the immediate vicinity of its source, attempts were also made to overcome this problem by using higher chimneys . As recently as 1980, with the help of model calculations and examples, it was shown that the concentration of air pollutants can be reduced considerably with higher chimneys. That is true, of course, but what is overlooked here is that the problem is only shifting. High chimneys distribute (and thus the concentration also decreases) the pollutants simply move much further. Air pollution control, as can be read in the title of the article, cannot be said here.

See also


  • H. Mayer, F. Kalberlah, D. Ahrens, U. Reuter: Analysis of indices to evaluate the air. In: Hazardous substances - keeping the air clean . 62 (4), 2002, ISSN  0949-8036 , pp. 177-183.
  • B. Scharer: 25 years of the Geneva Air Quality Convention. In: Immissionsschutz. 10 (1), 2005, ISSN  1430-9262 , pp. 9-14.
  • L. Knopp: 11 years of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. In: Immissionsschutz. 10 (3), 2005, ISSN  1430-9262 , pp. 90-100.
  • Bernhard Kirchartz, Alexander Kenyeressy: Limits of the new European air pollution control policy. In: water, air and soil. 50 (3-4), 2006, ISSN  0938-8303 , pp. 42-45.
  • Beate Kummer: CAFE program for Europe - Better air in Europe through even more regulation? In: water, air and soil. 50 (1-2), 2006, ISSN  0938-8303 , pp. 12-15.
  • Alfred Scheidler: The immission control instruments for area-related air pollution control. In: Environmental and Planning Law. 26 (6), 2006, ISSN  0721-7390 , pp. 216-222.
  • Alfred Scheidler: Further development of the European air pollution control law. In: Nature and Law. 28 (6), 2006, ISSN  0172-1631 , pp. 354-359.
  • Dieter Jost: Development of air pollution control in Germany. Interaction between science and politics. In: Hazardous substances - keeping the air clean. 67 (5), 2007, ISSN  0949-8036 , pp. 181-188.
  • Thomas P. Streppel: Individual legal protection options in air quality law. In: Journal for European Environmental and Planning Law. (EurUP) 2006, ISSN  1612-4243 , p. 191.
  • Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Energy Data, Table 9

Web links

Air quality measurements

International conventions

Essential regulations and additional information

General information on the subject of air and air pollution control

Emissions from reportable industrial plants (European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ RW Douglas, S. Frank: A History of Glassmaking. GT Foulis, London 1972, ISBN 0-85429-117-2 . Quoted from: Peter Brimblecombe, Henning Rodhe: Air Pollution - Historical Trends. In: Durability of Building Materials. 5, 1988, ISSN  0167-3890 , pp. 291-308.
  2. a b Otto Vogel: Smoke nuisance in olden times. In: smoke and dust. 2 (5), 1912, pp. 118-120.
  3. ^ Thematic strategy on air pollution control, COM (2005) 446 final of 21 September 2005
  4. ^ Geneva Convention 1979 , UNECE.
  5. ^ H. Koschel, KL Brockmann, TFN Schmidt, M. Stronzik and H. Bergmann: Tradable SO2 certificates for Europe. Physica-Verlag, Heidelberg 1998, p. 167 ff.
  6. Helsinki Protocol 1985 , Oslo Protocol 1994 , UNECE
  7. Sofia Protocol 1988 of the UNECE
  8. Geneva Protocol 1991 of the UNECE
  9. Aarhus Heavy Metals Protocol 1998 of UNECE
  10. Aarhus POP Protocol 1998 of UNECE
  11. Gothenburg Protocol 1999 of the UNECE
  12. Measures to reduce emissions , Federal Environment Agency
  13. Nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) in 2014 . ( Memento from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF) Federal Environment Agency (measured value documentation), preliminary data, last updated on January 20, 2015
  14. Tobias Hartmann: Air pollution in Germany continues to be questionable. internet portal, February 12, 2015
  15. Ueli Haefeli-Waser: Environmental protection. In: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz , accessed on December 30, 2018 .
  16. D-NABEL measurement concept 2015 .
  17. ^ Clean Air Act 1993 . The National Archives on behalf of HM Government. May 27, 1993. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  18. Otto Vogel: Combating smoke in ancient times. In: smoke and dust. 2 (7), 1912, pp. 198-202.
  19. ↑ Brief message: Elizabeth Jane Corbett , doctor in USA, In: Reports of the German Chemical Society (Berlin). 12 (1879), p. 1140.
  20. Bach, 1882.
  21. Bottenbruch and Kämmer, 1980.


  1. In the document of the Federal Environment Agency ( nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) in 2014 ( memento from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF) Federal Environment Agency (measured value documentation), preliminary data, last updated on January 20, 2015) only exceeding the " critical annual limit value "of 40 µg / m³ highlighted in red, not the critical value of the annual mean value of 30 µg / m³, which is used to protect the environment.