Understand air pollution and protect yourself


Does the air quality map for Hamburg indicate the current level of air pollution?

When the user first opens the air quality map for Hamburg, they will see several coloured discs that each contain a number. When viewed in full-screen, a legend appears at the bottom of the screen which explains what each different colour indicates. The colours range from pale green for good air quality to dark maroon for hazardous quality.

In the centre of each disc, a number can be seen. This is the US AQI number. This is an internationally used set of metrics endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is used when comparing air quality in different cities around the globe.

Some of the discs could appear to be overlapping, but once the page is expanded, they begin to separate and show more clearly their location and information. When a disc is selected the site will take you to the dedicated page for the area of the city where that monitor is located. Once there you will see all the information you need to know about that monitoring station and its environs.

What information can be collected from the air pollution map for Hamburg?

Other information shown on the interactive air pollution map for Hamburg is the location of the air monitors, the location of any wildfires which are burning in the vicinity, the air quality and the direction of the wind. This is very useful when studied in conjunction with the location of the wildfires. It will give a good indication as to which way the smoke from the fire might blow. At the beginning of April 2022, the closest fire to Hamburg was just 5.3 kilometres away, but the wind was blowing away from the city so the smoke should not pose a direct threat to air quality.

According to the main page for Hamburg, the air quality is “Good” with a US AQI reading of just 25. The main pollutant was PM2.5 with a level of 6.1 µg/m³ which is slightly over the 5 µg/m³ as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Other information from the air pollution map for Hamburg lists a brief weather forecast, the temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction and air pressure. There is also a forecast for the forthcoming days which may help in decision making.

When viewed in full-screen a table can be seen comparing air quality in various cities around the world. The number one position is held by the city with the worst air quality at that time, so a comparison can easily be made.

Does the air pollution map for Hamburg indicate where the worst air quality is?

When expanded, the air pollution map for Hamburg reveals the areas where the air is dirty. This can be identified by the numbers on the various discs. As stated previously, the higher the number in the disc, the dirtier the air.

Local residents may already recognise these areas that are known to be industrial zones where many factory units operate. There may be some darker colours over the city centre due to a high volume of traffic, but this is usually confined to certain times of the day, such as rush-hour.

What is the actual situation of the air pollution map in Hamburg?

The air quality in Hamburg is worse than in all other German federal states. On the one hand, the amount of fine dust is to blame, which reaches the second highest value in Hamburg. On the other hand, Hamburg has the highest urban nitrogen dioxide concentration in Germany.

The Nature Conservation Union determines nitrogen oxide values on the northern edge of the port, which are high but not prohibited. Nevertheless, there is a need for action. The port is a major contributor to inner-city air pollution, but not at levels that conflict with EU limits for nitrogen dioxide. However, as measurements have shown, the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are exceeded.

The pollutant load indicated at the stations of the Hamburg air measurement network exceeds the average, permissible annual load. Above all, reducing pollution in road traffic can make a major contribution to lowering the values into permissible ranges. Another example of how much the city and business are committed to a green Hamburg. In addition to a good image, such campaigns ensure a feel-good atmosphere in the Hanseatic city. In addition, Hamburg is taking on a pioneering role and showing that sustainability and cost-effectiveness are absolutely compatible.

Is any other information available on the air quality map for Hamburg?

Just below the map, information is listed as to the contributors to the data contained within the map. Sometimes this data is augmented by information gained from satellite imagery.

Scrolling further down the page you will see a list of all the relevant stations and their respective air quality levels. You will also find advice as to what to do if the air quality is very poor.

PM2.5 is a measurement used often on the air pollution map of Hamburg, but what is it?

PM2.5 is a subset of PM10 - particles of this size can reach the alveoli at the base of the bronchial tubes. They are a similar size to bacteria and therefore cannot be seen with the naked eye. The clearly visible dust that is produced on construction sites or by grit consists largely of coarse dust.

Due to the small size of the fine dust particles, the resulting long residence time in the atmosphere (days to weeks) and the atmospheric transport distance of up to 1,000 kilometres, PM2.5 is of high national and international relevance.

A recent assessment of the health effects of particulate matter by the World Health Organization (WHO) has clearly shown that increased PM2.5 exposure is associated with serious health effects (e.g., cardiovascular diseases). No threshold value could be found for these effects, which means that they can also occur with loads below the limit value. This can lead to a significant reduction in life expectancy. This is also reflected in the current WHO guideline values for PM2.5, which are significantly lower than those of 2005.

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