Evaluation of the low emission zone (LEZ) and the ACCEPTED (Assessment of changing conditions, environmental policies, time-activities, exposure and disease) project

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) were implemented in Germany as a measure for improving the quality of ambient air. LEZs are areas where the most polluting vehicles are regulated. It means that vehicles may not enter the LEZ when their emissions are over a set level. By now 56 LEZs are in operation in Germany (by October 2017); however they differ significantly especially regarding their size.

The introduction of the LEZs in Germany has provoked a public debate whether it might be an effective measure for cities to reduce their air pollution problems. It should be noted that the direct relationship between changes in emissions and changes in pollutant concentrations in the air is often difficult to demonstrate. This is due to the contribution from other sources and the effect of meteorology.

The predicted effect of LEZ on the PM10 immission was in general rather small (up to 10% decrease of PM10 levels) and as such difficult to detect. Additional parameters such as PM2.5, soot or ultrafine particles are in general not measured at the network monitoring stations. We started the evaluation of the LEZ in 2009, one year after the implementation of the LEZ in Munich, mainly by the analysis of existing PM10 data and other available pollutants measured by the official measurement networks in Munich and Berlin.

The analysis of LEZ were supported from 2013 by the EU project ACCEPTED (Assessment of changing conditions, environmental policies, time-activities, exposure and disease). Please refer also to the official website of the project:

The aim of the ACCEPTED project was to improve the understanding of future exposure situations in cities and their impact on health using an interdisciplinary approach. This was achieved by using various state-of-the-art atmospheric models and measurements and epidemiological studies and reviews.

Within the framework of this project we were especially involved in the evaluation of the mitigation strategies that can be used to reduce urbanization and climate change effects on the local urban meteorology and air quality. With applications on several European cities including Paris, Stockholm, Brussels and Augsburg the impact of several alternative adaptation scenarios on urban air-quality and human health to a mid-century horizon (2030-2060) have been studied. In particular the effects of enforced low emission zones (LEZ) in European cities have been evaluated. The main focus was on three German cities (Augsburg, Berlin and Munich) and one Swedish city (Stockholm). For all cities ground-based observations of airborne particles (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have been analyzed. Furthermore, for Augsburg and Stockholm the AIRVIRO modelling tool and high-resolution emission inventories for years before and after LEZ enforcements have been used to evaluate for improvements to the air pollution situation in the cities.

Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health
Institute of Epidemiology
Josef Cyrys (project coordination)
Jianwei Gu (postdoc)
Annette Peters (senior supervisor)


University Augsburg, Environmental Science Center
Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Department of Statistics
Bavarian Environmental Protection Agency

Helmholtz Zentrum München
Institute of Epidemiology
Dr. Josef Cyrys
P.O. Box 1129
D-85758 Neuherberg
Tel. +49 89 3187-4156
Fax +49 89 3187-3380

The project is funded by the Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health and the German Environmental Protection Agency UBA (UFOPLAN FKZ 3712 61 20).

Related publications:

  • Cyrys J, Peters A, Wichmann HE (2009) Umweltzone München – Eine erste Bilanz. Umweltmed Forsch Prax 14 (3) 127-132.

  • Cyrys, J. A. Peters, HE. Wichmann: Umweltzonen reduzieren Feinstaub und Dieselruß in deutschen Städten. Prävention - Zeitschrift für Gesundheitsförderung. 3, 75-78, 2012.

  • Cyrys, J., Peters, A., Soentgen, J., Wichmann, H.-Erich: Low Emission Zones Reduce PM10 Mass Concentrations and Diesel Soot in German Cities. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 2014, 64 (4): 481 – 487.

  • Cyrys, J., Peters, A., Soentgen, J., Gu, J., Wichmann, H.-Erich: Umweltzonen. In Handbuch der Umweltmedizin – 53. Erg. Lfg. 12/14, 2014.

  • Fensterer, V., Küchenhoff, H., Maier, V., Wichmann, H.E., Breitner, S., Peters, A., Gu, J., Cyrys, J.: Evaluation of the Impact of Low Emission Zone and Heavy Traffic Ban in Munich (Germany) on the Reduction of PM10 in Ambient Air. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2014, 11, 5094 – 5112.

  • Cyrys, J., Gu, J., Soentgen, J.: Analyse der Wirksamkeit von Umweltzonen in drei deutschen Städten: Berlin, München und Augsburg. UBA Bericht, 2015

  • Cyrys, J., Peters, A., Soentgen, J., Gu J., Wichmann, H.-Erich: Umweltzonen. Umweltmed - Hygiene - Arbeitsmed. 2015, 20 (1) 33 – 57

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