Cities with the highest nitrogen dioxide pollution in Europe

Thick air! After air quality has briefly improved over the past two years due to the pandemic, a new study shows that values ​​have again drastically worsened in many places. TRAVELBOOK shows the 20 European cities with the highest nitrogen dioxide pollution. Alarming: in the top ten there are also five German cities, which in this case should be called flop ten.

Particulate matter, smog, air pollution: just two weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report showing that 99% of people on earth breathe air that contains too many pollutants, with sometimes fatal consequences. Now the analysis of the Polish start-up Airly, based in Krakow, raises the alarm. Airly’s sensors provide local air quality data in real time and act as a global warning system for air pollution. The sad reality: the 20 European cities with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution exceed values ​​recommended by WHO.

nitrogen dioxide pollution

Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is a toxic, non-flammable gas composed of one nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms and is produced when it burns. The main sources of nitrogen oxides in the air are internal combustion engines and furnaces, for example for coal, oil, gas, wood, waste. According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), road traffic is the main source of nitrogen oxide in urban areas: most of it comes from diesel engines in passenger cars, light and heavy commercial vehicles and diesel buses.

Combustion in the engine first produces nitrogen monoxide (NO), a colorless, non-toxic and non-flammable gas. With atmospheric oxygen and especially with ozone (O3) nitric oxide then reacts to form nitrogen dioxide. Pure nitrogen dioxide is a reddish brown and highly toxic irritant gas. If there is a high level of NO₂ in the outside air, the gas can harm the environment and plants. It contributes to acid rain and, as substances accumulate in the soil, to soil acidification. When nitrogen dioxide levels are high, more people are hospitalized for respiratory illness. According to the UBA, an increase in cardiovascular disease and mortality can also be observed.

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Newcastle has the highest nitrogen dioxide pollution

According to measurements and assessments by the Airly company, air pollution increased in many large European cities in March. Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK tops the list of European cities with the highest nitrogen dioxide pollution. The NO₂ concentration in Newcastle was 44.6 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg / m3) – this corresponds to 179 percent of the WHO recommended limit value of 25 µg / m3g. Naples comes second with 42.4 µg / m3g and Paris third with 41.2 µg / m3g.

The top 20 shows that Germany must also act: five German cities are listed in the top ten. The German city with the highest concentration of nitrogen dioxide is Dortmund in fifth place. At 35.6 µg / m3g, nitrogen pollution corresponds to 142 percent of the WHO limit value.

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The 20 European cities with the highest nitrogen dioxide pollution

  1. Newcastle upon Tyne – 44.6 µg / m3 (179% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  2. Naples – 42.4 µg / m3 (170% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  3. Paris – 41.2 µg / m3 (165% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  4. Antwerp – 35.9 µg / m3 (144% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  5. Dortmund – 35.6 µg / m3 (142% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  6. Zurich – 34.9 µg / m3 (140% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  7. Stuttgart – 34.1 µg / m3 (137% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  8. Munich – 33.5 µg / m3 (134% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  9. Frankfurt am Main – 32.6 µg / m3 (130% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  10. Hamburg – 32.0 µg / m3 (128% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  11. Rotterdam – 31.8 µg / m3 (127% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  12. Brussels – 31.2 µg / m3 (125% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  13. Oslo – 30.5 µg / m3 (122% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  14. Athens – 30.5 µg / m3 (122% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  15. Sofia – 30.0 µg / m3 (120% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  16. London – 29.4 µg / m3 (118% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  17. Lyon – 29.2 µg / m3 (117% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  18. Katowice – 29.1 µg / m3 (116% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  19. Manchester – 28.9 µg / m3 (116% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)
  20. Prague 29.7 µg / m3 (115% of the WHO guide value of 25 µg / m3)



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