Purpose of this page

The BV-Freising-UFP website provides an assessment of how much you are affected by downwind from the airport at your current location.

Hundreds of tons of kerosene are burned by aircrafts daily during taxiing, take off and landing. Huge amounts of ultrafine particles are generated as part of aircraft exhaust fumes and are carried for miles depending on the wind conditions. Whenever the wind reaches you from the direction of the airport, UFP pollute the air you breathe. Ultrafine particles exposure is highly dependent on weather conditions, especially wind direction and velocity. The BV-Freising UFP website provides an estimate of how much you are affected by contaminated downwinds from the airport at your current location. The illustrations are to be understood as an indication of possible hazards. They draw on measured values depending on their availability, but can only show trends. Work is in progress to increase the number and frequency of measured data.

How to read this page

On the home page you will find a list of available airports. Click "your" airport and zoom in until your location appears. You will see orange circles originating from the airport center. The downwind cone widens and uses a color gradient to show the calculated concentration of ultrafine particles in the air you breathe. The lighter the color the fewer UFP in the air.

  • The ultrafine particles are always carried with the blowing wind.
  • The downwind cone is narrow by high wind and wider by weak wind.
  • Weak winds (1 meter per second (1 m/s)), for instance, carry the ultrafine particles about 3.6 kilometers within one hour. Stronger winds, e.g., 5 m/s, will carry the ultrafine particles 18 kilometers within one hour.

The graphical representation of the UFP downwind cone on your display is the result of a calculation process that takes into account wind direction and speed. 

The simulations are continuously refined by correlating directly measured concentrations of ultrafine particles with respective meteorological data.

Best agreement of the presented UFP load with the real UFP concentration is reached under conditions of constant winds. In rapidly changing wind directions (gusts) location and concentration match less well. 

The Deutsche Flugsicherung shows flight tracks in the vicinity of the respective airport, from which arrivals and departures can be clearly identified. Together with corresponding wind conditions, the pollution caused by wake vortices can be estimated. In addition to the mechanical damage (e.g. to house roofs) caused by low-flying civil jets, wake vortices pull the exhaust (gases and ultrafine particles) to the ground. Wind conditions again play a major role in this process. Particularly in the case of weak winds, the ultrafine particles are forced directly downward along the departure and approach routes. Measurements in Mainz have shown that engine exhaust can still reach residential areas from flying altitudes of 8000-11500 feet. Residential areas directly overflown are affected in two ways, especially during the landing approach: firstly by the wake vortices and secondly by airports downwind.

How our prediction works

For the prediction of ultrafine dust pollution, we use the following assumption:
  • Aircraft engines emit in addition to gases only ultrafine particles.
  • Ultrafine particles levitate in the air for a very long time and move with the wind.

For which airports is the forecast available?

Currently, the forecast is available for Munich Airport, Frankfurt, Berlin-Schönefeld, Vienna and Basel-Mulhouse. All German airports with at least 100,000 aircraft movements per year are planned to be included.

What is ultrafine particulate matter?

Ultrafine particles (UFP) cover the smallest fraction of fine dust with a diameter as small as the size of even gas molecules up to a size of 100 nanometers. They originate naturally or from technical processes. There are harmless and hazardous UFP. Without exception, UFP from combustion processes are harmful, firstly because of their small size (the smaller, the easier they enter the body's cells when inhaled), and secondly because of their chemical composition and accumulation of halogenated hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
High-performance engines emit UFPs in high proportions whereas aircraft engines exclusively emit UFP. While filter technology can be used for car engines, this is however practically impossible for aircraft turbines. Due to the high fuel consumption of civil aircrafts and due to a great many aircraft movements airports are huge regional hot spots of ultrafine particles. Hundreds of tons of jet fuel are burned on airports every day. The emitted UFP are carried by the wind to surrounding residential areas. 
If the wind comes from the airport, every resident becomes a "passive smoker" of aircraft exhaust. Children and sick people are particularly affected. Further information on ultrafine dust can be found, for example, on Wikipedia.