Arsenic in particulate matter

A smoking chimneyClick to enlarge
Amongst others arsenic emissions occur when stone coal, brown coal or mineral oil are combusted.
Source: Ralf Geithe /

Arsenic is toxic and can have metallic or non-metallic characteristics. It rarely occurs elementary but most of the time bound to other substances. In ambient air arsenic is measured bound to particulate matter.

Table of Contents


Emission sources

Arsenic emissions are mainly of anthropogenic origin, e.g they occur when stone coal, brown coal or mineral oil is combusted. Another source is the metal industry. Arsenic can also be emitted at volcanic eruptions.


Health risks

Arsenic can be absorbed through the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract. After chronic absorption through the lungs the mucous membranes and airways are damaged and lung cancer may occur.


Air quality standards

There is an Europe-wide target value of 6 ng/m³ as annual mean that is valid since 1 January 2013.


Air pollution

Since 2007 the target value was seldom exceeded, at stations in the vicinity of industry only.

The average pollution in urban and rural areas is slightly below 0.5 ng/m³. A bit higher concentrations are measured close to industrial areas, here the average value was about 1,5 ng/m³. The lowest concentrations are measured at the very remote stations of the Environment Agency (0.2 ng/m³).

Compared to other European countries, the arsenic pollution in Germany is quite low.

Arsenic in PM10 - annual mean values 2007 - 2020
Arsenic in PM10 - annual mean values 2007 - 2020
Source: Umweltbundesamt II 4.2 mit Daten der Messnetze der Länder und des Bundes

Arsenic in particulate matter - Annual tabulation

Here the annual tabulations from 2007 onwards can be found (station-by-station).