In a voluntary Environment Study Programme the airport operating company is examining the incidence of air pollutants caused by air traffic and its impact on the environment. As part of the study, kale plants were planted around the airport site and in the vicinity of the airport. Kale is a particularly good bio-indicator as it tends to absorb specific airborne pollutants.
In the study years 2011 and 2012, in October standardised kale plants were planted in ten sites and harvested after eight weeks. The results of the first study for 2011 conducted by the Munich Institute UMW Environmental Monitoring to determine the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals showed that airport operations had no impact on levels of airborne pollutants in the area.
The kale monitoring programme is implemented in strict compliance with the specifications of the Association of German Engineers. The strict guidelines for the soil in which the plants grow, the water used to irrigate the plants and the harvesting methods ensure that the methodology has a sound scientific basis. The kale plants used in the Study Programme are pre-cultivated under identical conditions in a neutral substrate. In the study area the plant pots are then placed on racks and left to absorb pollutants from the air for eight weeks.
The monitoring points are close to the runways, in Schönefeld and Blankenfelde-Mahlow, along the motorway and in agriculturally used areas far away from the airport in order to enable a comparison of the contamination situation to be made.
The study results will be written up in a style that is easy to understand and will be published continuously over the next few years in order to document potential changes to the air quality after BER opens.