Subjective disturbance due to air pollution
In the same way as many forms of environmental pollution, air pollutants are seldom directly perceivable. Nonetheless, we certainly perceive “bad air” – for example in the vicinity of heavily frequented roads – and often find it unpleasant and disturbing. In addition to the unpleasant smell, the knowledge that it is also harmful to our health is a further stress factor.
In 2019, 34% of the population felt either “somewhat disturbed” or “greatly disturbed” as the result of air pollution in the vicinity of their home. In 2015 the figure was only 19%, i.e. the subjective exposure has increased very significantly over the last four years. As is to be expected, it is considerably higher in towns and cities than in rural areas. It corresponds to measurements of immission levels of the most important pollutants, many of which exceed the specified limit levels in built-up areas and along heavily frequented roads. However, the trend of increasing subjective exposure contradicts the measured and actually decreasing exposure (see indicators on immissions and emissions of air pollutants).
This proportion is much too high in view of the potential harm to health and the restrictions on quality of life that go hand in hand with the feeling of being permanently exposed to polluted air.
The data are based on a survey (“Perception of environmental quality and ecological behaviour”) carried out by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). It was conducted by telephone and encompassed a broad variety of aspects of environmental pollution, awareness of the environment, ecologically-relevant behaviour and lifestyle. The random sample (N=3030) complies with the principle of representativeness.
The indicator records all respondents who stated that they feel somewhat or greatly disturbed by air pollution in the vicinity of their home (answers 3 and 4 on a scale of 1 (not disturbed at all) to 4 (greatly disturbed).
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