Air pollution experts report that Finland is on the receiving end of more than the usual amount of air pollution from eastern Europe. Air currents originating from the southeast are carrying particles of pollution from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, says air pollution control specialist Anu Kousa from Helsinki region environmental services. Air quality control officials say the pollution is emanating from traffic, energy production and possibly even from forest fires in the east.
“Fine particles and street dust have caused a deterioration of the air quality in the Helsinki region so that the air quality is now satisfactory or poor, when it’s usually satisfactory or even good,” Kousa added.
The air quality in cities such as Oulu and Tampere was also poor Monday morning and satisfactory in areas such as Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Lappeenranta. However concentrations of pollution are still at a reasonable level, and although they are expected to increase over the next few days, air quality control specialists don’t expect that air quality will worsen.
A regular spring occurence
“We see this happening every spring,” Kousa noted.
Usually Finland is swept by Atlantic currents, which tend to be cleaner. However even Atlantic currents can first make their way through eastern Europe, picking up fine particles along the way.
“There is however less pollution in central Europe than in eastern Europe. The air is cleanest when it comes from up North, for example from Sweden or Norway,” she added.
Fine air particles can pose a health risk as they can aggravate symptoms related to respiratory and heart diseases. Adding to the discomfort of these groups and allergy sufferers is high quantities of birch pollen in the air. Children and the elderly are particularly sensitive to these health issues.
According to Kousa people should aim to protect themselves from particle pollution and local street dust by avoiding physical exertion such as running near busy streets. However Helsinki Environmental Services is not advising anyone against going outdoors because currently the concentration of particles in the air is not dangerously high.