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Debate on diesel driving ban: Nitrogen oxide levels in Bonn and other NRW cities too high

Debate on diesel driving ban : Nitrogen oxide levels in Bonn and other NRW cities too high

The EU limit for the lung-damaging nitrogen oxide is still not being complied with in 25 NRW cities – including Bonn. The figures could again fuel the debate about diesel driving bans.

The nitrogen oxide levels relevant for diesel driving bans were too high in 25 cities in NRW last year. This was announced by the Federal Environment Agency on Monday. The agency, which is based in Dessau, announced new average values for 2018. In most cities, the values fell but in a few they rose. The EU limit is 40 micrograms. In 2017, 28 NRW cities still exceeded the limit.

The so-called intensive cities in 2018, with values over 50 micrograms, were Cologne (59), Düren (54), Düsseldorf (54) and Dortmund (51). Just below them were Bonn and Hagen with 50 micrograms, followed by Bochum (48). As a pollutant in the air, nitrogen oxide can damage the lungs.

Other NRW cities with values over the 40 microgram limit were Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, Aachen, Neuss, Paderborn, Witten, Wuppertal, Herne, Hürth, Leverkusen, Duisburg, Eschweiler, Mülheim/Ruhr, Schwerte, Bielefeld, Overath and Siegen.

In the green area of 40 micrograms or less last year were Gladbeck (40), Mönchengladbach (40), Dinslaken (39) and Solingen (35). These cities were still over the limit in 2017. The situation in Eschweiler (42) deteriorated and it slid over the limit on 2018.

The air in 57 German cities nationwide was too heavily polluted with harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Almost half were in NRW.

Maria Krautzberger, president of the Federal Environment Agency, called for a rapid refitting of older diesel cars with effective catalytic converters to meet the EU limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air as an annual average everywhere.

Raised NO2 levels are the reason for driving bans for older diesel engines in Hamburg and Stuttgart. Other cities could follow. NO2 in cities comes largely from diesel exhaust fumes. Stuttgart had the highest pollution in 2018 with 71 micrograms, ahead of Darmstadt with 67 and Munich with 66 micrograms. On average, the annual mean values at measuring stations located close to traffic were around 1.5 micrograms below those of 2017.

As in the previous year, the pollution in 15 cities nationwide was over 50 micrograms. They are regarded as “intensive cities” for which special assistance is available. In NRW, Dortmund is new among them. Bochum now lies under the mark.

(Original text: dpa. Translation: kc)