A pulmonary specialist in the case explained the applicable in Germany, limit values for fine dust and nitrogen oxides for the “utter bullshit”, more than 100 colleagues to jump him, and the Federal Minister of transport, rejoice: If so many scientists showed, is a “Signal” to reconsider the current measurement practices.

So far, So simplified. Because the position of paper, and now everywhere and the spring was a leader written by Dieter Köhler, the former Vice-President of the German society for pneumology (DGP), has already been sent at the beginning of January to 3800 DGP-members. have, However, signed only 112 according to the current state, less than three percent of lung experts asked. This suggests that a very large majority of the lung experts are in Germany, köhler’s view.

Far more lung experts believe that air pollution is cause for concern

The official Position of the DGP United colleagues is also quite different: “air pollutants endanger our health – especially children, the elderly and the Sick,” said the Association in November 2018. Experts had created for the DGP corresponding Dossier. On 100 pages with hundreds of footnotes summarize the state of knowledge of the research.

her conclusion: “the Negative health effects also occur below the presently valid in Germany European limits.” For the German population was currently “not optimal protection against diseases caused by air pollution”. Therefore, a lowering of the legal limits was “necessary” – so even more stringent guidelines.

Also, the Federal Association of pulmonologists, sleep and respiratory physician (BdP) has taken a position. “A trivialization of the effects of air pollutants endangered the efforts to minimize risks and hazards from air pollution!”, Frank Heimann, Chairman of the BdP warns in a message. The Association brings together more than 1,200 pulmonary doctors in Germany.

To which pollutants the debate, how they arise and what do we know about their effect on health, we have compiled the following Overview for you:

where are oxides of nitrogen?

oxides of nitrogen have no natural source, but is the result of when coal, Oil, Gas, or wood are burned. In cities, 60 percent of the nitrogen oxides from the traffic originated by the Federal environment Agency, according to. Diesel form as well as no oxides of nitrogen, therefore, the discussions on Diesel focus.

What limits apply to nitrogen oxides?

in Europe, a limit value of 200 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) per cubic meter of air per hour. He may not be exceeded more than 18 times per year. In addition, a limit of a maximum of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air, annual average, this value is also recommended by the WHO.

How nitrogen oxides affect the body?

nitrogen dioxide is a corrosive irritant gas. It is mainly when you Breathe in the body and penetrates to the lungs. A certain amount of it can irritate the respiratory tract and chest pain, shortness of breath and cough. People who are exposed to prolonged time, an increase in nitrogen dioxide pollution, and disease have an increased risk for Asthma, respiratory infections and cardiovascular. Especially persons with underlying conditions and children are at risk because their Airways are still developing.

The effects of nitrogen oxides, however, difficult to be considered in isolation. Instead, the majority of studies are called observational studies: researchers analyze how large-scale nitrogen oxide pollution in certain areas is and how many people there are, for example, of a heart attack, are diagnosed.

This type of studies, all have one weakness: you can never say absolutely for sure, that is actually the nitrogen oxides to blame for the observed diseases, and not other factors, such as the fine dust. In order to reduce the risk of such distortions as much as possible, expect researchers to the influence of other known factors. Nevertheless, the results provide never absolute security.

what is Clear, however, that nitric oxide in addition to ammonia and other gases, a starting material for the formation of fine dust of another group of air pollutants, in the current debate.

How to fine dust?

As a fine dust, are particles that are smaller than ten microns (PM10). A micrometer is a millionth of a Meter. The vast majority comes from natural sources. Volcanoes blow, for example, large quantities of particles in the air. Also, forest fires and desert sand contributes to the dust, and fine dust in the air. With time, the particles disperse widely in the atmosphere, so that the load with the distance to the source decreases, depending on the weather.

The man produced dust and fine dust mainly by combustion processes in the industry. Considering only the most health-damaging particles under 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5), to industrial processes households and small consumers as well as transport the major polluter. Households generate fine dust, for example, through fireplaces and heaters, and waste incinerators.

The transport is in addition to the abrasion of brakes and tires, especially of the combustion process in the Otto engine to fine dust pollution. In modern gasoline engines with direct injection of small particles that are smaller than 0.1 micron (ultrafine particles, UFP).

What are the limits for fine dust?

For particles below 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) in the EU, a limit value of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air, annual average. In the USA, it is significantly lower, only 10 micro allows grams, this corresponds to the recommendation of the WHO.

How does the fine dust on the body?

The Problem with the fine dust: the smaller the particles are, the further they penetrate into the body when they are inhaled. The larger the fine dust particles, the PM10, remain mostly in the upper respiratory tract, i.e. the throat, the trachea or the bronchi. PM2. 5, however, get up in the alveoli.

The ultra-fine particles can even pass into the bloodstream and so, in principle, all regions of the body to reach and cause damage there. It is assumed that UFP cause in the blood vessels of inflammatory processes in the vessel walls, and thus the hardening of the arteries, as well as the Emergence of blood, promoting clots.

What are the diseases of the fine dust triggers?

unlike the nitrogen oxides of the harmful effect of fine dust is considered to be clearly demonstrated. Fine dust is irritating to respiratory tract and mucous membranes, so that he can make respiratory problems such as cough, shortness of breath and Asthma, arise or intensify. Also in the development of lung cancer, the particles can be involved. If you do not enter the blood, they also damage the risk for cardiovascular disease – cardiac arrhythmia, hardening of the arteries and heart attack increases.

people who already have respiratory or heart problems, according to the world health organization, WHO, particularly through fine-dust of endangered, this is also true for children and seniors.

conclusion: Both nitrogen oxides as well as particulate matter apply to the experts as a health concern, with the effects of the fine dust better scientific evidence than the of the oxides of nitrogen. For both pollutants, we can make no unambiguous statement about which concentration the materials are definitely harmful. The current exposure limits are based in part on recommendations of the WHO, are set to make the final politically.

mah/ dpa

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.