5. January 2023 | Press release

DPD Switzerland measures the air quality in four Swiss cities in real time

DPD Switzerland is measuring the air quality in four Swiss cities with its fleet of vehicles. Sensors have been installed on around 100 vehicles to send information about particulate matter pollution in Zurich, Basel, Geneva and Bern in real time. The data is available to the public and paints a previously unavailable picture of the air quality on our own doorstep.


Numerous studies have shown that particulate matter pollution increases the risk of cancer and respiratory and circulatory diseases. Although the concentration of coarser dust particles (PM10, less than 10 micrometres) in most Swiss cities has fallen to such an extent in recent years that the thresholds are rarely exceeded, the occurrence of smaller dust particles (PM2.5) remains significant, especially in winter.

In December 2022, the concentration of PM2.5 particulate matter in Swiss cities, as measured by DPD Switzerland, was virtually always far beyond the maximum daily limit of 15 micrograms per cubic metre recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In some places, such as Geneva city centre, the sensors recorded values that are considered hazardous to health by the WHO.

DPD Switzerland has launched the “Breathe” project to provide more detailed information about the distribution of particulate matter in cities. As part of the project, vehicle-mounted lasers continuously measure the level of fine PM2.5 particles. The data obtained from all across the urban area will complement the stationary monitoring stations. “Breathe” is a DPD service that makes it possible to measure the current concentration of particulate matter on your doorstep, your normal commute or your running route, combined with personalised recommendations from the WHO.

“Breathe”’ is another milestone in DPDgroup’s Europe-wide sustainability scheme. The air quality is already being monitored in Paris, Lisbon, London and Hamburg, and has already led to changes in traffic rules. For example, Lisbon has created a new low emission zone on the basis of the detailed measurement data.

“Although air quality in Switzerland has improved continuously over the last decades, fine particles and especially PM2.5 remain a problem in terms of its potential to endanger public. The better our data situation is, the better we can define clear measures. LUNGE ZÜRICH therefore welcomes the initiative of DPD”,

says Dr. Michael Schlunegger, Managing Director of LUNGE ZÜRICH.


“Breathe is a tremendously important project to DPD Switzerland. On the one hand, it ties in with our vision of green parcel deliveries – we are aiming for zero-emission deliveries in six cities in Switzerland by 2025. On the other, it is an innovation in the field of air quality measurement, which used to measure selected points at fixed locations. We can now use our vehicles to measure the air quality across large areas”,

says Marc Frank, Director Strategy & Innovation at DPD Switzerland.


“Breathe aims to detect local particulate matter hotspots in cities and make them visible to everyone. The new data provides an accurate insight into the air quality in four major Swiss cities and can lay the groundwork for improving the air quality”,

says Ville Heimgartner, Senior Innovation Project & Sustainability Manager at DPD Switzerland.

DPD Switzerland sees environmental responsibility as a duty. All of the parcel service provider’s parcel deliveries have been carbon neutral since 2012, at no additional cost to its customers. It has managed this by measuring its carbon emissions, lowering them steadily and offsetting all remaining carbon emissions. In July 2022, GeoPost / DPDgroup even submitted its net-zero target to the Science Based Targets initiative with a view to lowering its emissions by 90 % by 2040 (from a 2020 baseline) and offsetting the remaining emissions through carbon offset projects.


How the mobile sensors work

The lasers mounted on DPD vehicles take constant measurements of the concentration of particulate matter in the air. Every 12 seconds, the average value is sent to a server over a GSM connection. Using GPS data, every measurement is assigned coordinates and used to visualise the air quality on a high-resolution map. Even the finest PM2.5 particles are measured accurately by the sensitive sensors. These can penetrate deeper into the respiratory system, remain there for longer and cause more lasting damage to the lungs than PM10 particles.


Facts and figures for project “Breathe” in Switzerland

  • The sensors travel 2 million kilometres per month

  • 5 million measurements per month

  • 150 km2 of urban area covered

  • 100 vehicles with sensors


Air quality in four Swiss cities: Click here for real-time measurements by DPD



About DPD Switzerland

DPD Switzerland is one of the leading private express and parcel service providers in Switzerland and, with its 1’200 employees and drivers, delivers over 24 million parcels to businesses and private individuals per year. Based in Buchs in Zurich, the company has 14 locations and around 400 DPD Pickup parcelshops in Switzerland and bordering areas in other countries. DPD Switzerland is part of DPDgroup.

For more information, please contact

Marco Kaiser