In 2014 some 6,000 people died early from cardiovascular diseases which were caused by NO2 pollution, UBA head Maria Krautzberger stated on Thursday.
She also blamed the pollutant for eight percent of type two diabetes diagnoses and 14 percent of all asthma cases. She concluded that roughly a million people had suffered an illness due to nitrogen oxide in the air.
High nitrogen oxide levels in German cities is caused primarily by diesel engines, which are currently at the centre of a heated debate of driving bans.
Krautzberger said that UBA figures showed that people who live in areas that are particularly affected by high levels of NO2 are more likely to suffer from the illnesses linked to the gas.
“The estimates that we are publishing are at the bottom end of the scale,” she said. “We need to stay under the legal limits for NO2 pollution in the coming years and perhaps even go lower.”
Around 70 German cities have streets in which levels of NO2 pollution above the legal limit are regularly recorded.
Last month a federal court gave the green light for cities to ban old diesel engines from their city centres. The decision could lead to cities such as Hamburg, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf introducing restrictions on diesel cars within the next year.