Graph showing nationwide exceedances of the WHO guideline values

Germany fails to meet the new World Health Organization (WHO) guideline values for air pollution for 2021

Hawa Dawa shows on the basis of an analysis of all existing public measuring stations in Germany that the new WHO guideline values for air pollution were exceeded at the majority of the measuring stations.

While the significantly less stringent EU thresholds were mostly met, the WHO annual average guideline value for particulate matter PM10 was exceeded at 41% of the stations, the WHO annual average guideline value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was exceeded at 82% of the stations, and the WHO annual average guideline value for particulate matter PM2.5 was exceeded at 99% of the stations. 

The new and stricter guideline values of the WHO were published in the fall of 2021 to take into account new scientific findings on the influence of air quality on health (see also WHO). The EU is also working on lowering the prescribed thresholds, taking into account the WHO guidelines. The adoption of these revised thresholds by the EU Commission is planned for the 3rd quarter of this year (see also European Comission).  

In the analysis for the calendar year 2021, the annual average values measured by the public measuring stations for the pollutants nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter PM10 and particulate matter PM2.5 were compared with the new WHO guideline values. It must also be taken into account that not all measuring stations determine values for every pollutant. Therefore, a percentage representation of the exceedances is chosen.

Pollutant  WHO Guideline Value
(Annual Average) 
Exceeded at % of German measuring stations 
NO2  10 µg/m3  82 % 
PM10  15 µg/m3  41 % 
PM2,5  5 µg/m3  99 %