Press release 7.5.2018

Finland tops WHO air quality statistics

Air quality in Finland is the best in the world, according to data released by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
Photo: Shutterstock

The level of airborne particles in Finland is an average 6 µg/m3  or 6 microgrammes per cubic metre which is the lowest level for any individual country. The air in Estonia, Sweden, Canada, Norway, and Iceland showed particle concentrations that were nearly as low.

The information comes from an extensive body of material published by WHO containing airborne particle measurements from 2,500 locations in nearly 100 different countries between 2008 and 2016. The highest particle concentrations, in other words, the countries with the worst air quality, are located in the Middle East and Far East as well as in Africa. The levels of particle concentrations in these countries are more than tenfold in comparison with the best levels in the report. In large cities in India annual concentrations have even exceeded 100 microgrammes (100 µg/m3).

"With respect to the results we need to take into consideration that the measurements of developing countries contain considerable uncertainty, as the quality of the measurements is not necessarily very reliable and the number of measurements is small, so regional representation ends up being weak", observes Pia Anttila, Senior research Scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. 

Considerable air quality problems in developing countries

The report raises the issue of the considerable air quality problems faced by developing countries. The WHO guideline value is 10 µg/m3. "This level was exceeded in more than 2,000 cities. "The number of people exposed to air pollution in cities with millions of inhabitants in Asia and Africa is massive", Pia Anttila points out.

Included in the report were the monitoring stations of 11 cities and towns in Finland (Lohja, Espoo, Oulu, Vantaa, Harjavalta, Lahti, Raahe, Tampere, Vaasa, Lappeenranta and Helsinki) as well as the monitoring stations of the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Utö and Virolahti.

Further information:

Ambient Air Pollution Database, WHO, May 2016.

Senior Research Scientist Pia Anttila, tel. +358 50 368 6420,

Air quality in Finland can be followed in real time at:

Airborne particles affect both health and climate change (in Finnish):