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Smog describes air pollution caused by emissions that occurs particularly in large cities. In common parlance, it describes the presence of air pollutants in concentrations that are harmful to health and impair visibility. From a scientific point of view, smog describes greatly increased concentrations of air pollutants over densely populated areas as a result of special meteorological conditions (e.g. inversion weather conditions ). Generally speaking, smog only occurs during weather conditions with little wind. An unfavorable topography due to valley or basin locations also promotes the development of smog. In rural regions where wood is burned intensively, smog can occur if the terrain is unfavorable .


The term is a suitcase word and is made up of the English words sm oke ('smoke') and f og ('fog'). It was coined in London at the beginning of the 20th century , when smog was a common occurrence there and was also called London Peculiars ('London peculiarities') at the time.

Wintersmog (London type)


Fumigation location: Winter smog in Shanghai (1993) with a clear boundary layer for vertical air expansion

The mixture of soot , sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ), dust (dry haze ) and fog can linger over a city for a long time under the unfavorable conditions of an inversion weather situation , especially of the fumigation type , and is usually harmful to health. The smoke comes from various sources such as thermal power plants , wood-burning systems and vehicles with internal combustion engines .

Secondary pollutants such as sulphurous acid (H 2 SO 3 ) and sulfuric acid (H 2 SO 4 ) are formed from sulfur dioxide and water . These lead to damage to plants and buildings and to irritation of the respiratory tract and eyes in humans.

This type of smog is also called winter smog or London smog . It's about reducing smog. In addition to this actual meaning, a distinction is also made between summer smog (Los Angeles type).

Effects of smog on humans

Carbon monoxide concentrations greater than 0.01% cause headaches and nausea. High concentrations lead to unconsciousness and death from a lack of oxygen. Nitrogen oxides and ozone irritate the mucous membranes and can lead to chronic respiratory diseases. High concentrations of fine dust pollute the cardiovascular system and are increasingly associated with hospital stays and deaths due to heart disease. Hydrocarbon compounds can be carcinogenic. Stronger physical stress (including sport) should be avoided in the event of a smog alarm.

Smog is a problem in many large cities. In the event of high concentrations of pollutants, some cities have adopted driving bans for motor vehicles. As long as the traffic is still running, the driver himself has the option of protecting himself from these smog substances by installing a high-quality cabin air filter ( cabin filter ) in his vehicle and replacing it regularly - the manufacturers recommend an annual replacement.

However, not every government and administration is prepared to recognize the phenomenon of “smog” for economic reasons.

Winter smog in Germany

Zone traffic ban in case of smog. This symbol was valid in the Federal Republic of Germany from 1976 to 2008.

The smog crisis in the Ruhr area in 1962 claimed 150 lives. Level I smog alarm was first triggered there on January 17, 1979. Due to a pronounced inversion weather situation, six years later, on January 18, 1985, for the western Ruhr area, for the first time in the Federal Republic of Germany, a level III smog alarm, combined with driving bans for private traffic and restrictions for industry, had to be triggered. West Berlin had the first smog situation in December 1968. In the 1980s there were several smog alarms in West Berlin, for example on January 17 and 18, 1980 (level I), and again on January 24, 1980, on December 19 1981 and from February 1st to 3rd, 1987 (level I and driving ban). On February 2, 1987, there was a smog alarm (level II without driving ban) in the Braunschweig / Wolfenbüttel area . On February 3, 1987, the smog alarm level I was declared in Hamburg with an eight-hour driving ban.

In the GDR , the Leipzig area, with its lignite power plants and its outdated large-scale chemical industry, was at great risk of smog. The GDR's first smog alarm was called here on December 1, 1989 (level two) and a football match between 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig and Dynamo Dresden was canceled as a result.

For the last time, the measured values ​​for a triggering of the smog warning level were achieved in January 1991 in Berlin. Thanks to better filter technology in power plants, extensive introduction of catalytic converter technology in motor vehicles and the elimination of the old GDR industry, the overall air quality in Germany has improved so much that all federal states abolished their smog regulations in the 1990s.

Winter smog in other countries

In December 1952, the city of London was hit by a severe smog disaster that killed up to 12,000 people, which is why this event is also called The Great Smog . The British government refused to recognize smoke as the cause of death due to the intensive use of coal as an energy source and initially put forward a flu epidemic . In the aftermath of this disaster, the Clean Air Act was passed, a bundle of measures to improve the air quality in the metropolis on a sustainable basis. This kind of winter smog has hardly existed in London since then.

In Paris in March 2014 - for the first time since 1997 - a partial driving ban was imposed due to winter smog. This ended on March 17, 2014. About 30 departments were affected by this winter smog.

In Beijing , people suffer from smog in certain weather conditions. In December 2015, around 1,000 factories were temporarily closed in order to minimize air pollution with pollutants for the population. In November 2017, a number of emergency measures were agreed to prevent further severe smog periods. Among other things, thousands of factories and construction sites were closed from mid-November 2017 to mid-March 2018, a partial construction freeze for coal-fired power plants was imposed, the use of coal for domestic fires was prohibited in Beijing and it was announced that tens of thousands of smaller blast furnaces would be closed. In addition, only trucks that meet the emission standards are allowed to drive through Tianjin and Beijing. In 2012, the particulate matter levels were partly 1000 mg / m³ air; the international limit value is 30 mg / m³. In 2015, around 1.8 million people died from air pollution in China.

In November 2017, there was also heavy smog in Delhi . The limit values ​​were exceeded tenfold in some cases. Among other things, United Airlines stopped flights to the city because flight safety was no longer given. The Indian Human Rights Commission also called on politicians to fight smog. The state could "not let its citizens die in this poisonous mist."

There is also a lot of smog in Poland , where according to the World Health Organization there are 33 of the 50 EU cities with the highest air pollution. In southern Poland in particular, values ​​are sometimes measured that exceed the values ​​of some Chinese cities. The fact that many private households in Poland heat with coal and in some cases with waste and the houses are poorly insulated, which leads to a very high heating energy requirement, plays a major role .

Balkan cities such as Sarajevo , Pristina , Belgrade and Skopje are also affected. In the EU, the Po valley in Italy is particularly heavily polluted.

Summer smog (Los Angeles type)

Los Angeles in the smog


The other type of smog that is more common today is photosmog (also called summer smog , ozone smog or LA smog ). It's oxidizing smog.

It occurs in the warmer months of the year, when the incident UV - radiation in conjunction with

leads to increased concentrations of photooxidants ( ozone , peroxyacetyl nitrate , aldehydes , HNO 3 ).

The following requirements must be met for the formation of high ozone concentrations: The presence of the two precursors NO x and (NM) VOC, intense solar radiation and a stable period of good weather lasting several days, which leads to the storage of ozone within the atmospheric mixed layers.

Ozone alarm

In several European countries (e.g. in France , Luxembourg and Switzerland ) there are laws that stipulate lower speed limits or even driving bans when certain ozone concentrations are exceeded. In Germany , this is the responsibility of the federal states. A national summer smog law was valid from 1995 to 1999.

In Germany, such an ozone alarm was triggered for the first time on July 26, 1994 for the federal state of Hesse , because the concentration of 180 micrograms per cubic meter had been exceeded; Tempo 90 on motorways and Tempo 80 on country roads were applied for three days.


Kuala Lumpur in the Haze

As Haze (English for, haze ',' haze ') is referred to a form of smog, the result of uncontrolled fires, fire clearance arises or natural disasters. In particular, the term is used in connection with recurring air pollution in Southeast Asia , which occurs in Malaysia , Singapore , southern Thailand or Indonesia . The background is mostly slash and burn in Sumatra and the Indonesian part of Borneo to expand oil palm plantations.

The pollutant levels in the air fluctuate depending on the weather and location. If the pollutant levels are very high, eyes and airways can be irritated. In particular, groups of people at risk, such as the elderly and small children, should then avoid physical exertion outdoors. Asthmatics and allergy sufferers are best left in closed rooms.

After hazes occurred in 1997 due to fires on more than nine million hectares in Brunei , Indonesia , Malaysia , the Philippines , Singapore and Thailand , the ASEAN countries initiated a program to monitor and prevent hazes, which was included in the 2002 ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution flowed.

In 2006 and 2015, two more severe cases of haze occurred in Southeast Asia. Massive forest fires in Indonesia in September and October 2015 led to a severe smog crisis that claimed around 100,000 lives in Southeast Asia due to air pollution .

Development of legal regulations

After the abolition of the smog regulations from the 1980s, other forms of air pollution are now coming to the fore in the legal regulations. The EU - limits for diesel soot and other dust particles were in Germany in 1993 by the 22nd BImSchV implemented. These regulations have been  expanded and tightened over the years - most recently by the 39th BImSchV . Driving bans can therefore be imposed in the event of severe air pollution . In Germany there is also talk of reducing the pollutant emissions of cars and trucks through new Tempo 30 zones , although this could possibly also increase emissions, as very few motorists shift into higher gear early and many then only shift to 3rd gear at most .Could use gear for town. After the introduction of the truck toll , a city ​​center toll was also addressed in Germany .

At the beginning of 2005, numerous residents of main roads successfully sued the administrative courts for enforcement of the EU directive. The affected municipalities are therefore developing measures to keep particulate-emitting vehicles (older diesel vehicles) out of zones contaminated with fine dust. The most likely regulation will be a general driving ban for diesel vehicles without a soot filter etc. a. expected in the inner cities of Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Critics fear supply problems and massive price increases in the retail trade in the inner cities, as these usually have older transport vehicles that would be disproportionately expensive to retrofit. In addition, older diesel vehicles are still not clearly identified as the main cause of the increased particulate matter levels. Excessive particulate matter concentrations were also reported from rural areas.

See also


Web links

Commons : Smog  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Smog  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. "Thick Air in the Revier". Calendar review of the WDR
  2. ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: Calendar review of DeutschlandRadio )@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  3. Calendar review of the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament
  4. ^ Franz-Josef Dreyhaupt (Ed.): VDI-Lexikon Umwelttechnik . 1994, p. 1081
  5. Horst Wagner: February 1, 1987 - Driving ban for the first time due to smog . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 2, 2000, ISSN  0944-5560 , p. 85-86 ( - Berlin Chronicle).
  6. Derek Elsom: Smog Alert. Managing Urban Air Quality. Earthscan, Abingdon (Oxon) / New York 1996, p. 15.
  7. David Schoenbaum, Elizabeth Pond: The German Question and Other German Questions. Macmillan, Basingstoke (Hampshire) 1996, p. 74, fn. 18.
  8. ^ Birgit Glock: Urban policy in shrinking cities. Duisburg and Leipzig in comparison VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, p. 100.
  9. Hannes Bahrmann, Christoph Links: Chronicle of the turn. The events in the GDR between October 7, 1989 and March 18, 1990. 12th edition. Ch.links Verlag, Berlin 2012, p. 108. ( )
  10. Smog: Paris imposes a driving ban for the first time since 1997 . In: Rheinische Post , March 18, 2014, p. A7.
  11. China closes thousands of factories due to smog . Mirror online
  12. a b A battle plan against the smog . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , November 15, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  13. "Worse than Beijing" Winter makes Poland's smog problem clear . In: Wirtschaftswoche , January 26, 2017; accessed on January 31, 2017.
  14. Air pollution: Thick smog has a firm grip on Balkan cities . In: euronews , January 17, 2020; accessed on February 10, 2020.
  15. Massive pollution - “Nowhere do so many fall ill from smog as in Northern Italy” . In: Swiss Radio and Television , January 10, 2020; accessed on February 10, 2020.
  16. Rethinking with tears . In: Der Spiegel . No. 31 , 1994 ( online ).
  18. Haze, the . In: Duden online . Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  19. ↑ Slash and burn creates thick air in Southeast Asia . In: FAZ , October 17, 2006.
  20. Malaysia: Travel and Safety Advice . Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Retrieved February 15, 2012.
  21. Combating Haze in ASEAN: Frequently Asked Questions. In: HazeOnline. ASEAN, accessed February 14, 2012 .
  22. Shannon N. Koplitz et al .: Public health impacts of the severe haze in Equatorial Asia in September – October 2015: demonstration of a new framework for informing fire management strategies to reduce downwind smoke exposure . In: Environmental Research Letters . tape 11 , no. 9 , 2016, doi : 10.1088 / 1748-9326 / 11/9/094023 .