Contents page 1 — “The nitrogen oxide limit value page 2 should be even more strict” — “From a health point of view, the situation is very clear” On a page

Die as a result of the diesel scandal, ultimately, thousands of people earlier, when there is less car exhaust gases would be blown into the air? Nitrogen oxides in the air are specifically but harmless as a thought-to-date driving restrictions is exaggerated? While some say that the NO2-limit value has been set arbitrarily on the Basis of inadequate research data and, ultimately, too high – and at the same time on the under-appreciated fine dust hazard references – warn others not to trivialize the nitrogen dioxide. The düsseldorf-based environment E. Barbara Hoffmann explains why you would lower the current limit even further.

Zeit ONLINE: Is the limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), lead prohibited to more and more driving, well-chosen?

Barbara Hoffmann: the population to protect against long-term effects of traffic exhaust gases, it is clearly too high. The limit should be even stricter.

TIME ONLINE: Is NO2 really so dangerous?

Hoffmann: the limit is not only the health effect of the irritant gas NO2 itself. It is also about all the other pollutants, which originate from the transport and in the street air does not occur, we measure: ultra-fine dust, soot, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, and many others. To regulate, rather than 25 individual substances is NO2 measured as an indicator and regulated. This works well, because NO2 is correlated with the other pollutants. We know from studies that there is also below the current limit value of 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of significant health effects from traffic exhaust gases.

Barbara Hoffmann is a Doctor and Professor of environmental epidemiology at the University hospital in Düsseldorf. © Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany

TIME ONLINE: What are the studies?

Hoffmann: We have a large number of studies of subjects which are either close to a busy road or out of your live, to the part in Green. When we compare, we recognize the health effects of the pollution from the traffic.

TIME ONLINE: In such epidemiological calculations, there is a lot of criticism. The allegation is: The limit was plucked out of the air, the medical base is missing.

Hoffmann: That is correct. In addition to the epidemiological studies and experimental studies are carried out, for example, cell experiments and animal experiments to demonstrate the biological effect and the plausibility of the relationship between air pollution and various diseases. In addition, we investigate short-term effects in the experiments carried out on animals and humans in exposure chambers. And then we also have long-term studies with animals over six or twelve months. The last building block is based on the investigation, as in the population, the burden from diseases correlated.

Zeit ONLINE: But the people who live on main roads, probably are also other reasons to be at a higher risk of disease than residents of quiet residential streets, for example, because they are poorer.

fine dust What is air pollution?

Dirty it is outside by pollutants from different sources: industry, road transport, agriculture, energy production and nature itself. The cleaner the air is, the less likely people suffering from seizures to strokes, heart disease, lung cancer or respiratory disorders such as Asthma. Also people have proven to be longer, if you can breathe fresh air. The medical journal The Lancet (Landrigan, 2017) estimates that air pollution is worldwide, approximately nine million premature deaths.

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