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German politicians welcome debate about air pollution

Staff Writer |
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer demanded on Monday that the "logic of thresholds" for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides in the air should be questioned.

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Limit values should be verifiable, since the effects of limits would now be affecting citizens. "Air quality is quality of life. But a good quality of life also requires good mobility," said Scheuer.

Scheuer encouraged a discussion about the precise locations of measuring stations for air pollutants in Europe.

Other countries would proceed "very freely and very flexibly" in this regard, according to Scheuer. That is why the locations of the NOx and fine dust measuring stations in Germany were now being checked.

The minister of the German federal state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, also supported an examination of the position of measuring stations in Germany. It would be sensible to think about why the measuring stations would be positioned "directly on the curb when the relevant EU regulation says they could be up to 10 meters behind them," Bouffier argued.

Michael Kretschmer, minister of the German federal state of Saxony, warned against a policy of lecturing on the current debate on limit values for particulate matter in Germany. Acceptance for air pollution thresholds would fall "if people have the impression that laws and limit values are not there to protect them."

Last week, over 100 German lung physicians signed a position paper in which the health benefits of the currently valid limit values for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides were questioned. The publication of the position paper had further intensified the debate on limit values for air pollutants in Germany.

"It is correct that we in Germany are now engaged in an intensive debate on whether the nitrogen oxide thresholds set by the EU are based on a serious scientific foundation and whether the measuring stations are correctly positioned," Bernhard Mattes, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), told the German newspaper Handelsblatt on Monday.

Good regulation would include constant questioning of laws and their application, added Mattes.

The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) contradicted the position paper of the German doctors on Sunday.

"FIRS agrees with the national German standards, the European standards and those of the World Health Organization (WHO) and thus contradicts the group of German lung specialists who had spoken out in favor of watering down the limit values," the FIRS statement reads.

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