Air Quality in Kiel –
everything within blue bounds.


Kiel, city with the lowest particulate matter pollution in Germany

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has evaluated pollutant values from 2021/2022 from over 400 measuring points in Europe, including 61 German cities. The average fine dust pollution in Kiel is the lowest in Germany at 6.9 μg/m³ (micrograms per cubic metre).
Kiel is in 19th place in Europe.
More information:

Air quality
in the port of Kiel

How good is the quality of the port‘s air we breathe in here really? Using accredited measurement techniques we got to the bottom of this question. Throughout 2018 we have conducted long-term air quality measurements of nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter at five different monitoring stations spread across the port of Kiel. The measuring results were also compared to existing measurements performed in 2008.

Picture: Tom Körber

Measuring techniques

Using a certified measurement process measurement stations for airborne particulates (PM 2.5, PM10) and passive samplers of the Eurofins company were used complemented by Olfasense sensor systems to analyse the air quality. Optical particulate counters captured the parameters PM1, PM2.5 and PM10. The measurement procedure was coordinated with and mutually agreed with the responsible State Agency for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Areas Schleswig-Holstein (LLUR) and the Environmental Protection Authority of the State Capital City of Kiel.

Measuring points in the PORT OF KIEL

The gathered data were compared to existing results and evaluated by the firm of Lairm Consult, taking into consideration the arrival and departure times of cruise ships and the prevailing wind conditions. In order to depict the cruise shipping business using only accredited measurement results, the measurement results by the Eurofins company taken on Hegewischstraße are depicted here (distance to cruise terminal Ostseekai: 600 metres).

Measured values with multiple ships in port
Chart: PORT OF KIEL based on the data of Lairm Consult


All results significantly fall below the applicable regulatory thresholds. Even with multiple cruise ships in port and easterly winds, no regulatory thresholds governing air quality are breached. Particularly during the cruise season the measured values are even lower than the annual average.

As far as fine particle matter PM10 is concerned, the city‘s back- ground condition measured at the reference station Bremerskamp amounted to 15 µg/m³ (annual threshold value: 40µg/m³). The level of pollution captured at the measuring stations in port do not differ from this value. Regarding PM2.5 the findings are similar. In course of the year, an average value of 8.1 µg/m³ was measured (threshold value: 25 µg/m³), which can also be included in the normal background conditions category of the city. Also the nitrogen oxide pollution at the port‘s measuring stations definitely falls below the limit value (40 µg/m³). At the castle garden near Ostseekai, an average NO2 level of 21.3 µg/m³ was measured, which lies in the upper range of the city‘s background condition values. In the Ostuferhafen area, levels of 15.8 µg/m³ were measured which correspond to the dimensions captured at the reference measuring point on Bremerskamp (14 µg/m³). There is no evidence to support a repeatedly advanced theory that there is a connection with emissions registered on one of Kiel‘s main traffic axes, the Theodor Heuss Ring road.

Is that the end of the story?

As we can see, the air quality around the port of Kiel is very good. But naturally, we as PORT OF KIEL want to proactively develop solutions and do our part when it comes to keeping our city’s air clean. This is our commitment as a BLUE PORT and this is the way we plan and act – not only as of now by the way. The ferries and cruise ships coming to Kiel have been equipped with catalysts and filter systems that emit a lot less pollutants than anywhere else.

In order to further reduce vessel emissions, shipping companies count more and more on alternative fuels when they build new ships. Until these propulsion innovations will have been implemented as standard technology, we have decided to install onshore-power plants in all our city terminals, i.e. at Norwegenkai, Schwedenkai and Ostseekai, so that there is an emission-free power supply available to ships to meet the onboard electricity needs of the vessels during their stay in port. Another topic that we are currently working on is the establishment of alternative fuels and the supply of LNG to the Kiel terminals.

Baltic Sea and ECA-Areas

The Baltic Sea

Kiel is a port on the Baltic Sea, which due to its character is a very sensitive navigated and protected area. The regulations regarding vessel emissions, waste and waste-water disposal, oil tanker equipment, the usage of marine coatings and the discharge of ballast water are much more stringent here than in most other navigated areas in the world.


Sulfur limits inside/outside ECA

When talking about ship emissions one generally looks at particulates (PM), sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) volumes in the air. Heavy oil is still common in the shipping industry and causes high SOx-emissions due to its high content of sulphur. This is why sulphur limit values for vessel fuels have been stipulated. While there is a sulphur limit value of 3.5 percent for shipping applicable for all oceans, IMO has introduced stricter regulations for certain marine areas, so-called Emission Control Areas (ECA). In these areas, vessels have only been allowed to use fuels with a sulphur maximum of 0.1 percent since 2015. The North Sea and the Baltic Sea are Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA) and as of 2021 they will be the only also NOx Emission Control Areas (NECA), alongside the North American coast. If a ship is allowed to emit 14.4 g NOx/kWh today, new ships will then
only be allowed 3.4 g NOx/kWh, id est a reduction of 75 percent. To note here is that in Kiel “Europa 2” as well as “Mein Schiff 3” to “Mein Schiff 6” already utilize catalysts for nitrogen oxide cleaning. In order to further reduce emissions stemming from ship operations, shipping companies also count more and more on alternative fuels for their new vessels.

Map ECA area