Information on breathing air

​What kind of air do people brea​the in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area?

​At a European level, the air in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is clean. At a more general level, the quality of air in Finland is good or satisfactory. The air quality has improved in the last decades, thanks to air quality work.

The factors that most affect the air quality in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are

  • traffic
  • air pollutants carried to the area with wind, such as fine particles and ozone
  • fireplaces and hearths in areas with single-family housing, especially during cold season and in the evenings and weekends
  • vessel exhausts in the ports.

Air quality in t​he Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Thoracic particles, i.e. street dust, always deteriorate the air quality during the spring time. There may be dusty days during several weeks. The concentrations of thoracic particles in the air have fallen below the limit values of EU during the recent years.

​Fine particles are the air pollutant that is the most detrimental to people. At a national level, their concentration is low. However, they can, at times, become too high, especially near busy streets and densely constructed single-family housing areas. In recent measurements, the benzo(a)pyrene included in the fine particles has exceeded the target value in some single-family housing areas.

​The concentrations of nitrogen dioxide are temporarily high in areas with busy traffic. The concentrations exceed the annual limit value in the city centre of Helsinki and along its main streets, as well as on busy streets lined by tall buildings.

The amount of ozone increases in the spring and summer, especially outsid​e the urban areas. Ozone travels to Finland from elsewhere in Europe with the winds.

The concentrations of heavy metals are low. They fall below the target and limit values.

​​The concentrations of some air pollutants have decreased significantly and they no longer cause notable air quality problems in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Such pollutants are sulphur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide.

​Air pollutants​Emission sources in the area​​Condition
​Fine particlestraffic, long-range transport, wood burning, street dust​
Thoracic particles​
​street dust
​Ozonelong-range transport
Nitrogen dioxide​traffic
Benzo(a)pyrene​wood burning
​Carbon monoxidetraffic
Sulphur dioxide​​
​energy production, ships
​Heavy metals

traffic, industry​​​