Air pollutants


Particulate matter

Particulate matter (PM10) consists of tiny floating particles with a diameter of up to 10 micrometres (µm). The dust particles do not all have the same chemical composition. High concentrations of particulate matter are harmful to the health of people living and working in cities.

Particulate matter consists of minute particles that enter the organism as we breathe. This can cause coronary and circulatory problems, respiratory diseases and even lung cancer.

Diagram Sources of particulate matter emissions – Friedberger Landstrasse
Sources of particulate matter emissions – Friedberger Landstrasse (Click on the diagram for an enlarged view)

Of the particulate matter measured on the Friedberger Landstrasse, 26 per cent comes from the exhaust fumes emitted by diesel-powered vehicles. Diesel exhaust emissions frequently contain very fine particles that are ­especially harmful to human health. Some 23 per cent of them are caused by abrasion and resuspension processes. Industrial activity, biogenic sources and building heating also make a substantial contribution to particulate matter pollution. Air traffic is only a minor emitter of PM10.

The level of particulate matter pollution depends very much on the weather. For example, periods of low atmospheric pressure with fairly high air exchange rates and rain, which flushes the particles out, reduce the particle concentration in the atmosphere. When air exchange rates are low (inverse wea­ther conditions), which occurs frequently during the winter periods of high atmospheric pressure, particle concentration increases.

Since 2005, the daily mean value of 50 µg/mł may be exceeded on no more than 35 days each calendar year. This limit value was not exceeded in 2010.

What we are doing

Low exhaust buses

Frankfurt has been pioneering this area in Germany for a number of years. In tender procedures for the public transport service, the city insists on the use of buses that comply with the ­Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicle (EEV) standard.

Vehicles powered by natural gas

In 2005, Frankfurt City Council decided to convert its fleet of urban vehicles to natural gas. The city administration and the municipal companies now have some 400 gas-powered vehicles in use.

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What we are doing

Low emission zone

In order to ensure long-term compliance with the limit for particulate matter, a low emission zone has been established in Frankfurt. More

Find out more

For further information on particulate matter pollution in Frankfurt, the effects on health, and measures included in the action plan for Frankfurt am Main, visit

Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide

For information on pollution caused by sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), click here.