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Exhaust gases from diesel vehicles – The oxides of nitrogen, their dangers and limit values News

Saturday, August 26th, 2017 | Economy

There is a big gap between the limits for road traffic and the workplace. The following is an overview:
What are the risks of nitrogen oxides?
Nitrogen oxides are gases that irritate the respiratory tract. This is particularly a problem for asthmatics. The pollutants can also lead to chronic cardiovascular diseases. The pulmonary function can also be permanently impaired. Other diseases are possible. Allergies can also be triggered or exacerbated. The European Environment Agency estimates that 10,400 premature deaths in Germany will be caused by nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in 2012. The Federal Government for the Environment and Nature Conservation (Confederation) also points out that nitrogen oxides contribute to climate change. They also caused acid rain and acidification of the environment.
Which limit values ​​apply to nitrogen oxides
40 micrograms can not be exceeded in the annual average. The peak value may be higher than 200 micrograms a year. According to Umweltbundesamt, this was the case in 2016 in Stuttgart however 35 times and in Darmstadt 28 times the case.
At work, a far higher load is permissible in Germany. For example, a limit of 950 micrograms is required in industrial workplaces and in trades where an increased exposure to nitric oxide is to be expected – almost 24 times as much as in road traffic. In normal offices, it may be 60 micrograms.
Why are higher limits permitted in the job?
According to a spokesman for the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) (UBA), these differences are based on the assumption that the outside air is exposed to people all around the clock – and thus sensitive persons like children, the elderly, sick or pregnant women. In offices, on the other hand, there were no children and as a rule the workers were healthy. In addition, the office spent only a certain time of the day. "The prerequisite is, of course, that those who work there are also healthy and are always cared for by the workplace," says Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. According to the UBA spokesman, however, a committee belonging to its authority aims to update the assessment of nitrogen oxides in the interior.
According to the spokesman of the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), Eckehart Rotter, the different limit values ​​at workplaces and in the road traffic do not match. The 950 micrograms for employees were not only one time a day, but eight hours a day, the whole week and the entire working life. In fact, one must ask why the minister Andrea Nahles, responsible for the workplaces, does not reduce the value to 40 micrograms.
How reliable is the information on death sacrifices?
The federal government and other environmental organizations, like the UBA, are using the above figures from the European Environment Agency. But there are also associations which call higher numbers. The Umweltbundesamt is currently preparing its own calculations for Germany.
For the calculation of diseases and premature deaths associated with nitrogen dioxide and other airborne pollutants and noise, a concept developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on environmental pollution is used. Environmental and health data are linked and analyzed statistically. On the basis of the heart attack frequency in Germany and data on the noise pollution of the population, it can be estimated, for example, how much of the heart attacks in Germany are attributable to environmental noise.
According to VDA spokesman Rotter, the figures on premature deaths are not based on a scientific basis. For this purpose, he refers to the final report of the Federal Committee on Exhaust Gas Inspection. The experts describe the statement that 10,000 people per year are dying by traffic emissions. "Epidemiologically, a link between deaths and certain NO2 exposures in the sense of adequate causality has not been proven," it says literally.
However, a researcher from the organization Environmental Health Analytics in Washington recently came to drastic results: According to this, the number of premature deaths from nitrogen oxides for the world's largest automakers is 107,000 people per year. The scientists estimate that only 38,000 people died in 2015 because exhaust emission limits were not met – 11,400 of them in the EU.


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