Clean air in sparsely populated Finland

A sparsely populated country with moderate urbanization makes for the purity of air and other natural resources that characterize Finland. The average air quality is the best globally and contributes to the purity of Finnish food.

There are a number of factors that explain the good air quality in Finland. It is a sparsely populated country with no massive industrial hubs, and cities that are small by global comparison. We have a rather good track record in complying with air pollution emission limits agreed upon by interna-tional conventions. Finnish industries employ high technology and our energy production is efficient. By global standards, the car stock is new.Our climate is relatively humid and cool, which means low levels of photochemical pollution, such as ozone, and no sandstorms. Finland’s even topography facilitates the dispersion of pollutants. Our northern location, far from densely populated Central Europe, tends to reduce the amount of long range transported pollutants. Finland has over 20 million hectares of forest and is part of the boreal forest region (taiga).

Forests have an important role in carbon sequestration from the atmosphere. Trees also remove particulate pollution from the air as trees can capture particular matter (PM) from the atmosphere. The EU publishes highly detailed European air quality statistics and summaries on a yearly basis. Almost without exception, Finland and the other Nordic countries score the best ambient air quality. While particulate matter (PM) concentration is only one component of air pollution, it is considered the best indicator of air pollution health effects. The average fine particle (PM2.5) concentration in Finland is 6 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3), the lowest for any individual country in the 2018 global statistics.