The air is clear – isn’t it?

07.08.2013
The air is clear – isn’t it?
No sooner had school started again after the holidays than things got exciting for children from the primary schools in Schulzendorf and Schönefeld. On 6 August, as part of the Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (FBB) environmental programme, the children harvested grass grown under specially controlled conditions in their school yards. Dr. Monica Wäber from the UMW Umweltmonitoring Institute, Jochen Heimberg, director of the FBB Environment Office, and Dr. Kai Johannsen, Team leader Emission Protection, explained the objectives and the structure of the study to the children and answered their questions.

The grass cultures were planted in contaminant-free humus in pots on poles; at the beginning of May 2013 these plants were placed in a total of 10 locations around Schönefeld Airport. The grass samples were subsequently sent to the Munich UMW Umweltmonitoring Institute to be examined for traces of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals. These substances occur as residues of combustion processes from heating systems and from road and air traffic. Grass is used for biomonitoring programmes as it is a forage crop which can enter the human food chain when eaten by cattle and dairy cows.

The analysis of grass is part of a voluntary programme which has been run by the airport operating company since 2011. The FBB environmental monitoring programme will span several years and aims to document the impact of air traffic on the environment around the airport. In addition to biomonitoring, which uses data from grass, kale plants and bee populations, the airport operator also has an air quality measurement point. None of the studies conducted in the past years has revealed values that exceeded the thresholds.

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