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Press release archive: 2016

Drying of street surfaces raises dust into the air

11.4.2016 13:50

The street dust season has already been making its presence known for a few days in Finnish cities.

Photo: Juha Poutanen

Photo: Juha Poutanen

Street dust rises into the air as street surfaces dry up after the sand spread on the streets to reduce slipperiness, grounded up by traffic and the mineral matter worn out from the paving rise into the air due to traffic and wind. The situation is typically worst during rush hour on streets and roads with heavy traffic. It has not yet been possible to properly clean the streets as nightly temperatures have been below freezing, and the conditions thus continue to be favourable to the formation of street dust.

Typical symptoms caused by street dust include rhinitis, cough, itching of throat and eyes and breathing symptoms. Sensitive population groups include asthmatic people of all ages, elderly people with coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as little children. Despite the problems, it is important to remember that air quality is good in Finland and has improved during the last 25 years", Pia Anttila remarks. For instance, the air quality is as good in only one tenth of cities in Europe.

According to the weather forecast of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Easter will begin with unsettled weather, and numerous precipitation regions with snowfall and sleet will move over Finland towards the east. However, the weather will become clearer and warmer everywhere in the country over the weekend, which in turn will make the street dust situation worse.

Further information:

Senior Research Scientist Pia Anttila, tel. +358 29 539 5410, pia.anttila@fmi.fi

You can check the air quality situation in all of Finland at the Ilmanlaatu.fi website.
Street dust: http://www.ilmanlaatu.fi/ilmansaasteet/komponentit/pm10.html