Air pollution control

In order to achieve a considerable reduction of pollution, a great number of measures in the fields of transport, trade and industry, as well as domestic heating is required.

In the 1980s the topic of “clean air” gained in significance due to dying forests and the dioxin problem. Since then a lot could already be achieved with some pollutants, such as a reduction of SO2 and of lead emissions by more than 90%, of emissions of dioxins and of polycyclical, aromatic hydrocarbons by more than 80%.

New scientific evidence and new measurement methods have raised awareness for the problem of particulate matter. For his reason more rigid limit values were adopted a few years ago. In order to achieve a considerable reduction of particulate matter, a great number of measures, in the transport sector, as well as in the fields of trade and industry and domestic heating is required.

As far as nitrogen oxides are concerned the need for reduction has also been a topic, as they are also ozone precursor substances. In spite of the progress achieved in the motor vehicle exhaust gas technology, the threshold values next to roads are still exceeded nowadays due to the permanently rising traffic volume.

Legal framework conditions

The main law on the protection of the air that we breathe the Air Pollution Control Act (Immissionsschutzgesetz-Luft IG-L) was adopted, after several years of negotiations between all interest groups, in 1997. In the case of exceedances of air pollution threshold values a so-called identification of the status quo has to be carried out, which investigated into the framework conditions and causes of the exceedance.  On the basis of this survey the respective Provincial Governor in charge shall then establish a programme of measures, which can include measures in the fields of plants, transport as well as measures regarding substances and products. The programme aims at ensuring the compliance with the threshold values stipulated by the EU in the best possible way.

In terms of emissions the Emissions Ceiling Act - Air (Emissionshöchstmengengesetz-Luft EG-L) has laid down reduction goals for the most important air pollutants for the year 2010. Most recently the EU has adopted a Directive with goals for the years 2020 and 2030 which will also be incorporated in the Emissions Ceiling Act -Air. Emission threshold values for industrial plants and energy generators are laid down in the Industrial Code and in the Emissionsschutzgesetz für Kesselanlagen (EH_K) (Emission Control Act for Boilers).