The Berlin-Brandenburg Air Study – a natural experiment investigating health effects from changes in airport-related exposures (BEAR Study)

Study objective:

Ambient ultrafine particles (UFP) may impose a substantial risk to human health. However, epidemiological evidence for health effects of UFP in humans is still relatively scarce. Recent studies have shown that UFP concentrations in ambient air are strongly elevated in the vicinity of large airports. The Berlin-Brandenburg Air Study (BEAR Study) aims to conduct and analyse measurements of air quality in Berlin and Brandenburg before and after the relocation of aircraft traffic from the inner-city airport Tegel (TXL) to the new airport BER and to investigate the association of aircraft-related UFP with health outcomes in schoolchildren. The BEAR consortium partners with the Ultrafleb consortium, which conducts a comprehensive measurement campaign and models source-specific UFP in the study region.

Specific objectives

  • To investigate concentration changes in size-fractioned and source-specific UFP and other air pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, BC, NO2, NOx, O3) before and after the relocation of air traffic from Tegel airport to the new airport BER by conducting a measurement campaign, contrasting downwind areas and control areas.
  • To measure daily air pollution exposure at schools in Berlin and Brandenburg
  • To investigate short- and long-term health effects of UFP and aircraft-related UFP pollution in school children of Berlin and Brandenburg by analysing repeated measurements of health outcomes (respiratory and cardiovascular health, neurocognitive function, quality of life)

Study design:

Population-based cohort study with repeated measurements

Study population:

800 schoolchildren of Berlin and Brandenburg at the age of 6-12 years will be examined up to 4 times within 3 years

Study area:

City of Berlin and Brandenburg; areas around Tegel airport and the new airport BER

Study period:


Current status:

Ongoing field work


  • Prof. Petra Gastmeier, Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. med. Miriam Wiese-Posselt, MPH, Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Josef Cyrys, Institute of Epidemiology, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health, Germany

Project Team Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf

  • Prof. Dr. Barbara Hoffmann
  • Dr. Vanessa Soppa
  • Dr. Katherine Ogurstova
  • Dr. Sarah Lucht
  • Anna Buschka

Cooperation Partners

External Funding

  • German Research Foundation (DFG) (2020-2023)
  • Federal Environment Agency (Unmweltbundsamt UBA) (2020)
  • Municipalities of Blankenfelde-Mahlow, Eichwalde, Schönefeld and Schulzendorf (2020-2023)

Moreover, the BEAR study is supported by the Senate of Berlin, the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection of the State of Brandenburg, State Office for Environment Brandenburg and the Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Integration and Consumer Protection of the State of Brandenburg.

Project Publications

  • Diener A, Lucht S, Lüchtrath S, Glaubitz L, Weinhold K, Winkler U, Wiedensohler A, Cyrys J, Gastmeier P, Wiese-Posselt M, Hoffmann B. The Berlin-Brandenburg Air Study – a natural experiment investigating health effects from changes in airport-related exposures. Environmental Health Perspectives 2021. DOI: 10.1289/isee.2021.P-415.
  • Soppa V, Lucht S, Ogurtsova K, Buschka A, López-Vicente M, Guxens M, Weinhold K, Winkler U, Wiedensohler A, Held A, Lüchtrath S, Cyrys J, Kecorius S, Gastmeier P, Wiese-Posselt M, Hoffmann B. The Berlin-Brandenburg Air Study—A Methodological Study Paper of a Natural Experiment Investigating Health Effects Related to Changes in Airport-Related Exposures. International Journal of Public Health 2023 Nov 17:68:1606096. DOI: 10.3389/ijph.2023.1606096.

Press Releases

Related Publications

  • de Jesus A, Rahman M, MazaheriM, Thompson H, Knibbs L, Jeong C, Evans G, Nei W, Ding A, Qiao L, Li L, Portin H, Niemi J, Timonen H, Luoma K, Petäjä T, Kulmala M, Kowalski M, Peters A, Cyrys J, et al. Ultrafine particles and PM2.5 in the air of cities around the world: Are they representative of each other? Environment International. 2019;129:118–135.
  • Li F, Schnelle-Kreis J, Cyrys J, Wolf K, Karg E, Gu J, Orasche J, Abbaszade G, Peters A, Zimmermann R. Spatial and temporal variation of sources contributing to quasi-ultrafine particulate matter PM0.36 in Augsburg, Germany. Science of the Total Environment. 2018;631–632:191–200
  • Hennig F, Quass U, Hellack B, Küpper M, Kuhlbusch T, Stafoggia M, Hoffmann B. Ultrafine and Fine Particle Number and Surface Area Concentrations and Daily Cause-Specific Mortality in the Ruhr Area, Germany, 2009–2014. Environ. Health Perspect. 2018;126(2):1–10. DOI: 10.1289/EHP2054.
  • Lanzinger S, Schneider A, Breitner B, Stafoggia M, Erzen I, Dostal M, Pastorkova A, Bastian S, Cyrys J, Zscheppang A, Kolodnitska A, Peters A for the UFIREG study group. Ultrafine and Fine particles and hospital admissions in Central Europe, Results from the UFIREG study. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2016;194:1233-1241.
  • Ofner J, Kamilli KA, Held A, Lendl B, Zetzsch C. Halogen-induced organic aerosol (XOA): A study on ultra-fine particle formation and time-resolved chemical characterization. Faraday Discuss. 2013;165:135-149
  • Ohlwein S, Kappeler R, Kutlar Joss M, Künzli N, Hoffmann B. Health effects of ultrafine particles: A systematic literature review update of epidemiological evidence.Health effects of ultrafine particles: a systematic literature review update of epidemiological evidence. International Journal of Public Health. 2019;64:547–559. DOI:10.1007/s00038-019-01202-7.
  • Soppa VJ, Schins RPF, Hennig F, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Hellack B, Quass U, Kaminski H, Sasse B, Shinnawi S, Kuhlbusch TAJ, Hoffmann B. Arterial blood pressure responses to short-term exposure to fine and ultrafine particles from indoor sources - A randomized sham-controlled exposure study of healthy volunteers. Environ Res 2017;158:225-232. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.06.006.
  • Stafoggia M, Schneider A, Cyrys J, Samoli E, Andersen ZJ, Bedada GB, Bellander T, Cattani G, Eleftheriadis K, Faustini A, Hoffmann B, Jacquemin B, Katsouyanni K, Massling A, Pekkanen J, Perez N, Peters A, Quass U, Yli-Tuomi T, Forastiere F; UF&HEALTH Study Group. Association Between Short-term Exposure to Ultrafine Particles and Mortality in Eight European Urban Areas. Epidemiology. 2017;28(2):172-180. DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000599
  • Tremper AH, Jephcote C, Gulliver J, Hibbs L, Green DC, Font A, Priestman M, Hansell AL, Fuller GW. Sources of particle number concentration and noise near London Gatwick Airport. Environ Int 2022;161
  • von der Heyden L, Deventer MJ, Graus M, Karl T, Lamprecht C, Held A. Aerosol particles during the Innsbruck Air Quality Study (INNAQS): The impact of transient fluxes on total aerosol number exchange. Atmospheric Environment. 2018;190:389–400.
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