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Air pollution control

Good air quality is important for human health and comfort. It is also essential for biodiversity and for the preservation of the built environment. The objective of Finland’s air pollution control policy is to improve people’s wellbeing by safeguarding a good state of the environment, including good air quality, and to safeguard biodiversity and prevent the acidification and eutrophication of ecosystems. This objective implements for its part the public authorities’ constitutional obligation to make efforts to secure the right to a healthy environment for everyone. The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for ensuring through decision-making and by steering its administrative branch that this basic right is realised in Finland.

YHA Kuvapankki
YHA Kuvapankki

Air pollution causes a variety of harmful effects

Air pollutants are seriously harmful to human health and cause between 1,600 and 2,000 premature deaths in Finland every year. The adverse effects on health are largely (64%) caused by fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which contains carcinogenic PAHs and heavy metals. The particles are transported by air to all parts of the respiratory tract, causing damage in the lungs and, through circulation, also in the cardiac muscle, the brain and other parts of the body. The effects of the other air pollutants are also serious, but less so compared with fine particulate matter. Although the long-range transport of emissions is declining as a result of the measures taken by the EU, the partly unregulated emissions generated near the breathing height by small-scale wood burning, street dust and road traffic still remain.

In addition to the harmful effects on human health, air pollutants cause acidification and eutrophication in the environment and material damage in the built environment. In Finland, the areas that are vulnerable to acidification are estimated to constitute less than one per cent of the surface area of ecosystems and the areas vulnerable to eutrophication about three per cent.

Measures are taken to prevent harmful effects

Air pollution control policy is aimed at reducing harmful emissions and thus minimising the concentrations of harmful gases such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia and fine particulate matter in the lower atmosphere.

Emission reduction is primarily based on EU directives that have been implemented by national legislation, mainly by the Environmental Protection Act (527/2014) and the decrees issued under the Act.

In addition to the regulation of emission sources and the monitoring of air quality, decisions taken in other sectors such as the climate, energy, transport and agricultural sectors may affect air quality and exposure.


Oili Rahnasto, Ministerial Counsellor, tel. +358 295 250 244, firstname.lastname@ym.fi


Published 2019-08-12 at 10:16, updated 2020-01-10 at 8:51