The German view: effects of nitrogen dioxide on human health--derivation of health-related short-term and long-term values

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2005;208(4):305-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2005.04.002.


The presented overview concerning health relevant effects caused by nitrogen dioxide (NO2) resumes the current state of results from animal experiments and human studies (epidemiology and short-term chambers studies). NO2 concentrations applied in animal experiments were mostly considerably higher than in ambient air. Therefore, short- and long-term limit values were derived from human data. Experimental studies conducted with humans demonstrate effects after short-term exposure to concentrations at or above 400 microg NO2/m3. Effects on patients with light asthma could not be observed after short-term exposure to concentrations below 200 microg/m3. On basis of epidemiological long-term studies a threshold below which no effect on human health is expected could not be specified. Two short-term limit values have been proposed to protect public health: a 1-h value of 100 microg/m3 and a 24-h mean value of 50 microg/m3. Due to the limitations of epidemiological studies to disentangle effects of single pollutants, a long-term limit value cannot be easily derived. However, applying the precautionary principle, it is desirable to adopt an annual mean of 20 microg NO2/m3 as a long-term mean standard to protect public health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / standards*
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Germany
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Mortality
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / standards*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / toxicity
  • No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Level
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / chemically induced
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vehicle Emissions


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Nitrogen Dioxide