Finland Has the Third Cleanest Air in the World – Good Air Quality Through Spring and Summer

A truck cleaning street dust in Helsinki in late March 2017. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Finland has the third cleanest air in the world, according to the World Health Organization, WHO.

Sweden ranks first. But this article is not about the eternal rivalry between the Nordic neighbors. In these statistics, it’s a blessing to belong among top three! Air pollution can, after all, cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer and premature death. According to WHO, three million people are killed each year because of excessively high air pollution.

In Finland, the air quality has remained good through the spring and summer. “During the spring, we managed to avoid the thickest dust clouds, even though the street dust season lasted for long. The continuing night frost slowed down the ability to start cleaning the streets, which in large part lengthened the street dust season,” said Pia Anttila, a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

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Street dust is formed when the snow melts and the road surface dries and the sand that has been spread on the roads (to reduce slipperiness) starts rising with the wind.

The reference level for particulate matter recommended by the WHO is 10 µg/m3. “This level was exceeded in more than two thousand cities. The number of people who are exposed to air pollution in the metropolises in Asia and Africa is indeed huge,” Pia Anttila said.

In addition to Finland and Sweden, the air in Iceland and Estonia is clean. Countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand are in the same top class in global comparisons.

Sources: The Finnish Meteorological Institute, WHO