Air quality assessment in the European Mega City Ruhr Area and effects of low emission zones

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Courtesy of IVU Umwelt GmbH

The Ruhr area is the biggest German megalopolis, a conglomerate of several intertwining major cities, with more than 5.3 million inhabitants. In spite of many efforts in recent years to improve the air quality in the Ruhr area, especially residents in street canyons with a high traffic density are still exposed to poor air quality and meeting the limit values of European air quality guidelines remains a challenge.

For this region IVU Umwelt has identified the hot spots by a combination of measurements and modelling. Pollution maps have been created on behalf of the Landesumweltamt (State Environmental Agency) of North Rhine-Westphalia LANUV.
Shares of industry, shipping, rail traffic, offroad traffic and heating were calculated. Furthermore, the road network of the Ruhr area was mapped with housing data in order to identify road sections with possibly affected inhabitants.
Relevant section parameters, e. g. width of section, building height and density, were derived using semi-automatic GIS methods. The concentrations caused by local road traffic were then calculated with the screening model IMMISluft .

Such, a road network of more than 3000 km in length and with over 8000 inhabited sections was investigated. The concentrations are displayed in pollution maps with colors from green, over yellow to red which results in so called 'Traffic Light Maps'.

In quite a large number of these sections, air quality was identified to be rather poor and measures have to be taken to improve the situation. One possible measure is the implementation of low emission zones. In the study, effects on air quality have been calculated for different scenarios of low emission zones.

The generation of the pollution maps is visualized in a poster, presented at the symposium „Air quality in street canyons'. (in German) 

Further information on the 'Traffic Light Maps' is presented by LANUV (in German):
General information (in German)
NO2 annual mean value presented as 'Traffic Light Map' for nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
PM10 annual mean value presented as 'Traffic Light Map' for particulate matter (PM10)

 

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