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Steering of air pollution control

The Ministry of the Environment prepares the national objectives of air pollution control, participates in international cooperation and develops and prepares air pollution control legislation and other means of reducing the harmful effects of air pollutants. Through the environmental permit procedure, regional and municipal operators are responsible for ensuring that operators reduce their emissions as required by legislation. The Finnish Environment Institute gathers the national data on emissions, reports it to the EU and to the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, and coordinates and reports on the monitoring of the impacts of air pollution. The responsibility for the monitoring of air quality lies with municipalities and, at rural background locations, with the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Air quality limit values and guideline values

The Government Decree on Air Quality (79/2017) sets the limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, inhalable particles, fine particulate matter, lead, carbon dioxide and benzene in ambient air. A limit value is the highest permitted concentration of air pollutants. Under the Environmental Protection Act, municipalities must draw up and implement air pollution protection plans which ensure that, if limit values are exceeded or are at risk of being exceeded, the concentrations will be below the limit values by the given time limits.

The same Decree lays down a target for reducing population exposure to fine particulate matter and a target for the maximum level of exposure. The Decree also lays down provisions on the information threshold and the alert threshold concerning ozone concentrations in ambient air and on long-term objectives and target values. The limit and target values are based on the EU’s Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC). Furthermore, an EU directive on air quality (2004/107/EC) has been implemented by the Government Decree on Airborne Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, Nickel and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (113/2017).

Finland also has an existing government decision on air quality (480/1996) dating from the end of the 1990s. It lays down the guideline values for the permitted amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, total suspended particles, inhalable particles and total reduced sulphur in outdoor air. The starting point for the guideline values is the prevention of adverse effects on human health and nature and ensuring people’s general wellbeing and comfort


Tarja Lahtinen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 250 149, firstname.lastname@ym.fi

Published 2019-08-15 at 10:21, updated 2019-08-15 at 10:29