Division II


Division II is in charge of waterbody and soil protection as well as public-health issues such as air and drinking water quality.

Environmental Health and Protection of Ecosystems

Hazards to the environment can cause hazards to human health

Effects of industrial manufacturing, farming, energy generation, consumption or transport which are harmful to nature and to the environment may also be hazardous to human health, i.e. the condition of water, soil and air can have major health impacts. Contaminants pollute the air we breathe, our bodies absorb them via the food chain, nutrient inputs cause ecosystem eutrophication, and traffic noise can cause sleep disorders as well as cardiovascular disease. Pathogens in drinking water or bathing water can be a quite immediate hazard.

Division II activities

Division II’s vision is sustainable development. This implies that yardsticks for human activities are both the conservation of the natural basis of life and environmental quality objectives which ensure ecosystem functions. Our mission is to protect human health and to preserve an environment in which we enjoy living.

Division II activities require a close link between experimental research and a science-based development of concepts. Steps for this include:

  • observing the status of the environment and analyzing exposure (of humans and ecosystems)
  • developing assessment criteria and environmental quality objectives
  • analyzing causes and scenarios for future development of environmental impacts
  • developing programmes to reduce environmental impacts.

In order to assess the occurrence and behavior of contaminants and pathogens in the environment as well as their impact, we conduct experiments both in the laboratories and using technical-scale facilities which simulate conditions in nature (the facility for the simulation of riverbank and slow sand filtration and a lysimeter facility).

Environmental policy depends on environmental and public health data and the trends they reveal to assess the need for action and the success or failure of measures taken. For this we obtain data from detailed long term observations of environmental conditions, e.g. via the nationwide investigation of environmental and human samples (environmental and human specimen bank) and from its air quality monitoring network. For compiling these data, we also collaborate closely with the agencies of the 16 states of Germany (“Länder”) as well as with research institutes.

German environmental and public health data reveals trends and allows for conclusions to be drawn concerning the need for environmental policy related actions and their success and failure. Division II obtains its data through meticulous and long term observations of environmental conditions via nationwide investigations of environmental and human samples (environmental and human specimen bank) or operation of the air quality monitoring network. To this end, Division II also works closely with both public and private sector research institutions.

Environmental status assessment and ensuing action

Assessing the condition of the environment requires adequate metrics. For this purpose Division II develops environmental quality objectives, assessment frameworks and methods for comparative risk assessment.
We translate our findings and assessments into action at different levels. One is policy development, i.e. propose technical and legal drafts for federal laws or ordinances and for the implementation of EU Directives in the fields of water and air quality. Examples include the Federal Water Act (WHG) and related ordinances on surface and ground water, or the Federal Soil Act and related soil protection regulations. Division II also issues technical guidelines and recommendations, for which various commissions and advisory councils provide invaluable advice and support. We make our data, findings and assessments available to domestic and international bodies such as the European Environmental Agency (EEA).

Environmental and health protection at the international level

Requirements for the protection of human health and the environment are increasingly being adopted and enforced at the European and international levels. In order to achieve a robust protection level, experts in all relevant fields need to intensively engage in an international dialog. To this end, we cooperate with the World Health Organization (WHO) through our two WHO collaborating centres for Air Quality Management and Air Pollution Control and for Research on Drinking Water Hygiene.

German Environment Agency

German Environment Agency

The UBA’s motto, For our environment (“Für Mensch und Umwelt”), sums up our mission pretty well, we feel. In this video we give an insight into our work.



Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Please contact us exclusively by e-mail: buergerservice [at] uba [dot] de.
Unfortunately, we are currently not available by telephone.
There may currently be delays in answering enquiries. We ask for your understanding.
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 Division II  German Environment Agency  environmental health  ecosystems