Göttingen found to have best air quality of all German cities

Göttingen found to have best air quality of all German cities

Göttingen found to have best air quality of all German cities

The EU Environmental Agency (EEA) has crunched data from 323 cities around Europe to discern which places have the best air quality. Göttingen is the top German city in the ranking, coming in at a respectable 29th place.

Air quality around Europe

The EU Environmental Agency has published a list of 323 cities, ranking them on air quality. The EEA compared fine dust pollution levels in the 323 cities, which are spread out across 26 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. According to the ranking, 127 of the cities have good air quality, 123 were rated as having moderate air quality, whilst 73 cities were seen to have bad, or very bad, air quality.

The ranking was based on average levels of fine particulate matter in the cities in 2019 and 2020. Cities were ranked as having good air quality if the levels of pollution were under the World Health Organisation’s guideline of less than 10 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic metre of air. Those with a moderate score averaged between 10 and 15 micrograms, whilst those who were rated as having bad air quality averaged between 15 and 25 micrograms. Any city that broke the EU limit of 25 micrograms was rated as very bad.

Residents of Göttingen can breathe easy

There were 52 German cities included in the EEA’s ranking, but it is the city of Göttingen that takes the crown for the cleanest air in Germany. The university town ranked a respectable 29th on the list, and is thus rated as having good air quality. Freiburg (ranked 45), Darmstadt (46), Lübeck (50) and Hanover (56) made up the top fv=ive German cities, with a further 25 also making it into the “good” rank. The remaining 22 German cities were all classified as having moderate air quality.

This is undoubtedly good news, particularly after the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) released data suggesting that the air in German cities is getting significantly cleaner.

Berlin performed particularly disappointingly, despite still being ranked as having moderate air quality. The German capital was the lowest-ranked German city, coming in at 219th place. No German city ranked as “bad” or “very bad," but several major German cities like Cologne were not included in the ranking. The EEA explains that this is because the cities may not have air quality monitoring stations, or the data is not complete enough.

Air quality saves lives

Air quality in Europe has improved significantly over the past 10 years, mainly due to reduced emissions from vehicles and energy production. As a result, compared to 2009, it has been reported that almost 60.000 premature deaths arising from exposure to particulate matter were avoided in 2018.

Despite this, air pollution continues to be a problem in European cities, with the EEA estimating that 400.000 premature deaths across 41 European countries came as a result of exposure to pollutants in 2018, including tens of thousands in Germany. "While air quality has improved markedly over the past few years, air pollution remains stubbornly high in many European cities,” said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx.

According to the ranking, the Nordic countries boasted the cleanest air quality. Umeå in Sweden topped the ranking, followed by Tampere in Finland, Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira, Tallinn in Estonia, and Bergen in Norway. The worst air quality was recorded Nowy Sacz in Poland.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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