Overline: Report
Headline: Air Quality and Ozone: the Current State of Play

The threat posed by ozone to human health and vegetation continues to be a matter of concern for German politicians, scientists, and the general public. Participants in a workshop organised by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the German Environment Agency (UBA) analysed the current state of knowledge on ozone and identified areas where more action is required. The resulting publication contains a catalogue of recommendations for tackling the ozone problem.

Ozon Schmetterling Luftqualität
Air pollution is one of the environmental threats to health. Ozone is composed of air pollutants and oxygen and often causes breathing difficulties in humans. Shutterstock/ memorypast bkk

Ozone (O3) is a greenhouse gas composed of three oxygen atoms. Ground-level ozone, which is produced when air pollutants react with oxygen, has been shown to cause respiratory problems, headaches and coughing in many people. Ozone levels are particularly high in summer. In the case of vegetation, ozone hinders growth and can lead to poorer harvests.

At the workshop, experts discussed the current state of knowledge on ozone-relevant processes, areas where modelling and measurements can be improved, the value of existing emissions inventories, and the contribution of regional ozone formation to total air pollution. General recommendations for reducing emissions of ozone procursors in Germany were formulated and knowledge gaps and further areas of research identified.

The main recommendations that emerged from the workshop are summarised in a recently published brochure by UBA and the IASS.

In particular, the brochure highlights the need for:

  • Further reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxides;
  • Parallel measurements of nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone at urban, suburban and roadside stations;
  • Model comparison studies at various spatial scales.

Further information can be found in the publication “The Ozone Situation in Germany” published by UBA and the IASS.