Stuttgart's Pollution

Bad Air Days

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Courts have started cracking down on Germany’s high air pollution that violates E.U. laws.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Stuttgart’s pollution level exceeded the E.U. limit on 64 days last year; anything more than 35 is considered a health risk.
    • A court recently ordered the city of Düsseldorf to halt car traffic if its air quality doesn’t improve.
    • Daimler alone employs 80,000 people around Stuttgart, and most plants can only be reached by car.
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    Audio

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Surrounded by hills that hinder fresh air circulation, Stuttgart resembles a cauldron. Source: Franziska Kraufmann / DPA

Stuttgart, capital of the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, is a hub of German engineering. Carmakers Daimler and Porsche as well as one of the biggest automotive suppliers, Bosch, are based in an around the city which is considered one of Germany’s most innovative places.

But Stuttgart also has another, less appealing record as the city with the highest air pollution in Germany.

Both particulate pollution and nitrogen oxides measured in Stuttgart are much higher than in other cities around Germany. Particulate pollution crossed the threshold set by the European Union on 63 days last year. Anything more than 35 days is considered harmful for people’s health.

By comparison, not a single U.S. city crosses the pollution threshold.

The pollution problem is not new, but it’s more relevant for the city than ever: the German environmental group DUH recently started suing cities that violate the E.U. standards. In late 2016, a court ordered Düsseldorf in western Germany to halt car traffic if air quality doesn’t improve dramatically.

The city appealed the verdict, and the case is currently pending at the Federal Administrative Court, the supreme court for administrative disputes. If the verdict stands, it will apply to all cities in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Düsseldorf is located.

 

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