Air pollution control
Finland’s air pollution control policies aim to maintain high air quality, in order to preserve healthy and pleasant residential environments, and viable natural ecosystems.
Harmful effects of air pollution
Air pollution can lead to problems in the soil and water, such as eutrophication and acidification, as well as hazards in the air itself, such as the formation of ozone near ground level. Gaseous pollutants, such as ozone and nitrogen oxides, represent a direct health risk, as do fine particles that can get deep inside our lungs.
Still room for improvement in urban air quality
Thanks to well-planned measures to combat pollution from industrial plants, power stations and motor vehicles, harmful emissions and acidification have both declined in Finland considerably over the last 20 years. But natural habitats in sensitive areas are still burdened by more acidifying deposition than they can naturally cope with, so the emissions that cause these problems must still be cut even further.
Urban air quality has not improved as rapidly as expected, even though traffic emissions have been curbed. Fine particles remain a serious problem, and emissions from industries, power stations, and smaller combustion plants causing fine particle concentrations should all be reduced further. The streets must also be cleaned more effectively from sand after winter season.
The Air Pollution Control Programme 2010
In September 2002, the Finnish Government approved a national programme setting maximum annual limits for emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia and volatile organic compounds to be complied with from 2010 onwards. The programme contains measures to reduce emissions from energy production, transport, agriculture and industry, and also sets out ways to curb emissions from machinery, leisure boats and the small-scale combustion of wood.
International co-operation vital
The Air Pollution Control Programme 2010 has been specifically designed to transpose the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive. The implementation of this directive throughout Europe should reduce the emissions and subsequent atmospheric deposition of pollutants that cause eutrophication and acidification in Finland, while also curbing long-range ozone and particle pollution, and thus improving air quality.
Achieving these targets must involve co-ordinated international action in addition to measures taken in Finland, since a considerable proportion of the air pollution that causes problems in Finland actually originates from other European countries.
An important step forward is the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution prepared in the EU CAFE programme.
Fact sheets on environmental protection - best practises in Finland