From October 15, 2019, to April 15, 2020, we have Feinstaub-Season here in Stuttgart! You might have already heard of it. But maybe you wonder what all the fuss is about and what this Feinstaubalarm in Stuttgart is anyway. Let me explain…
Feinstaub can be translated into fine dust or particulate matter and consists of very small particulates that are not bigger than 1/10 of the diameter of a human hair. Fine dust is created for example by cars or stoves. Due to its small size, it can end up in the human body very easily and create lung problems and heart conditions.
Fine dust is a well-known problem to bigger cities. But in Stuttgart, we have a special situation: Because of the topography, the elevation and valleys, certain weather conditions (mainly cold weather without rain) can lead to relatively little airflow in the inner city, producing conditions conducive to the build-up of air pollutants such as fine dust or nitrogen oxide. To sum it up, the fine dust can’t get out of the city anymore.
So what can we do in this case? Well, we can try to limit the fine dust produced within the city boarders – and wait for wind or rain. So that’s where the Feinstaubalarm (fine dust alarm) comes into play: The alarm will be triggered when the German Meteorological Service (DWD) forecasts particular limitations in atmospheric airflow on at least two consecutive days between 15 October 2018 and 15 April 2019.
What am I allowed and not allowed to do during Feinstaubalarm in Stuttgart?
Some actions are voluntary, some mandatory. You are still allowed to drive your car within the city boarders. What the city of Stuttgart does during Feinstaubalarm is asking the people to leave the car at home and switch to public transport, start carpooling, use electric cars or ride bikes. However, this is all voluntary at the moment.
But when it comes to so-called comfort-stoves, the story is a different one. Comfort-stoves are stoves that do not contribute to the heat generation in a household on a relevant level and are only used for cozyness. Since January 31, 2017, it is prohibited to use these stoves during a Feinstaubalarm.
Even though many actions are still voluntary, I think high fine dust rates – which are especially dangerous for children – are a good reason to take the alarm seriously and act on it – not only for yourself but also for the community. As you can see, I definitely support the Feinstaubalarm in Stuttgart. 🙂
What will happen if the fine dust rates stay high?
Well, then Stuttgart gets a problem with the European Union. The European Commission has criticized the high rates several times already. If the mainly voluntary Feinstaubalarm in Stuttgart doesn’t solve the problem, more mandatory steps will follow. Otherwise the European Commission will ask for a high penalty.
However, it looks like Stuttgart is on a good way. In 2018 the critical level of finedust was not exceeded! If we manage to stay under this level in 2019 too, this might be the last Feinstaub-Period!
I want to support the Feinstaubalarm in Stuttgart. What can I do?
As mentioned earlier, leave the car at home. That will help a lot. In order to make it easier for you, the city of Stuttgart and some partner companies have prepared some goodies:
- Use public transport. Stuttgart has quite a good S- and U-Bahn and Bus network so take advantage of it. It even got cheaper in 2019 as VVS introduced new prices for the public transport in Stuttgart! Lern more about how the “öffentlicher Nahverkehr” in my guide to the public transport in Stuttgart.
- Hire an e-smart via SHARE NOW (formerly car2go). New customers even get a bonus of 10 Euro with the following code: J19_B2C_STG/Feinstaub More information here (only in German).
- New customers of the car-sharing company Stadtmobil Stuttgart get a bonus of 2×10 Euro on their first two invoices when they sign the contract on days with Finedustalarm. www.stadtmobil.de (only in German)
- Share your car with other who need to travel in the same direction. Carpooling is not only fun but good for the environment, too – and it saves you money when you divide the costs for petrol.
- Go by bike. And if it is too steep, you can even take your bike in the U- or S-Bahn with you for free most of the time. More information here.
- Or simply go by foot! Stuttgart is quite a small city and many destinations are in walkable distance. Why not stretch those legs of yours and take a stroll?!
If you want to stay informed about the Feinstaubalarm, you can subscribe to a messaging service via WhatsApp, Telegram and Insta: www.stuttgart.de/feinstaubalarm/help/whatsapp (only in German)
And if you have a website or blog, you can install the free widget that shows your readers if a Feinstaubalarm is in place at the moment. When it’s green there’s no Feinstaubalarm in place, when it’s red, there is Feinstaubalarm in Stuttgart.
Picture credit: Jana Braun