Nitrogen dioxide: population-weighted exposure assessment and quantification of environmental burden of disease in Germany

Study Background:
Epidemiological studies have shown associations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with numerous health outcomes including cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity and mortality. EU-wide air quality limit values are set at 40μg/m3 for the annual mean and at 200μg/m3 for the 1-hour mean. However, in Germany, these limit values are regularly exceeded in urban areas with high traffic impact. As currently known, no threshold value exists below which no health effects can be expected. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive health risk assessment for NO2-induced health outcomes in the German population.

Specific Aims and Methods:

  • To assess the spatial distribution of NO2 in Germany from 2007 up to 2014.

  • To calculate the population-weighted NO2 concentration for the German population for the years from 2007 to 2014.

  • To perform a systematic literature search to ascertain the current state of knowledge on health effects of NO2 exposure and to identify exposure-response-functions (ERFs) transferrable to the setting in Germany.

  • To apply the Environmental Burden of Disease concept to quantify the NO2-associated disease burden using Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).

  • To discuss the uncertainties of determined health risks and to conduct sensitivity analyses.

Current status:


Helmholtz Zentrum München - Institute of Epidemiology II: Dr. Alexandra Schneider (PI), Dr. Susanne Breitner, Dr. Ute Kraus, Dr. Josef Cyrys,

IVU Umwelt (GmbH), Freiburg, Germany.

External advisor:
Dr. Francesco Forastiere, Lazio Region Health Service, Department of Epidemiology, Rome, Italy.


German Environmental Agency, F&E-Vorhaben 3715612010 des UFOPLAN 2015 (funding period: Oct 2015 – May 2017).

Related publication:
Schneider A, Cyrys J, Breitner S, Kraus U, Peters A, Diegmann V, Neunhäuserer L. Quantifizierung von umweltbedingten Krankheitslasten aufgrund der Stickstoffdioxid-Exposition in Deutschland. 2018. Schriftenreihe: Umwelt & Gesundheit | 01/2018. Umweltbundesamt.

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