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Air quality

FTIA’s goal is to reduce emissions of pollutants into the air from transport and infrastructure management, thus improving air quality particularly in urban areas.

Air quality is generally good in Finland, but air pollution is nevertheless the cause of 1600–2000 premature deaths in Finland every year. The health hazards involved primarily result from fine particles containing harmful substances such as carcinogenic compounds and heavy metals. Other air pollutants also affect human health, but they have less impact than fine particles.

The EU Emissions Ceilings Directive (2016/2284) requires member states to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particles (PM2.5). By 2030, Finland must reduce its sulphur dioxide emissions by 30%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 35% and fine particle emissions by 34% compared to 2005 emission levels.
The national 2030 Air Pollution Control Programme includes the measures needed to meet the emission reduction obligations as well as other measures needed to improve air quality. These additional measures apply in particular to emission sources at the respiratory level in population centres (small-scale burning of wood, road dust).

Damage to air quality caused by road transport

Damage to air quality from road traffic results from exhaust emissions and road dust. This harm can be reduced by

  • improving the energy efficiency of transport systems and vehicles
  • replacing fossil fuels with electricity and gas; and
  • regulating exhaust emissions from vehicles.

Transport emissions are also reduced by reducing the volume of road traffic. Thus, the means of reducing air quality damage from transport are largely the same as the means available for mitigating climate change.

Road dust is another cause of adverse health and well-being effects, and these can be reduced by preventing dust generation.

We have investigated road dust problems in population centres

In 2018, the Finnish Transport Agency, predecessor to FTIA, commissioned a report on roads with dust problems. These problems are particularly common in urban areas with large traffic volumes, and exposure to dust increases as populated areas become more densely located along roads. The harm caused by dust can be reduced by decreasing the generation and spreading of particles as well as people’s exposure to them. The most significant means available to FTIA relate to maintenance procurement and collaboration with various bodies such as municipalities.

FTIA’s goal is to reduce emissions of pollutants into the air from transport and infrastructure management, thus improving air quality particularly in urban areas.

Emissions from marine traffic

Sulphur dioxide emissions from vessel traffic have decreased significantly thanks to the provisions of the EU Sulphur Directive that entered into force in 2015, but these emissions still compose the majority of transport-related sulphur dioxide emissions. Marine traffic currently accounts for a significant share of both the total transport-related emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide as well as the emissions from the immediate vicinity of ports. The further reduction of emissions requires the passing of internationally approved decisions within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), as the emission levels cannot be significantly affected by national decisions.

FTIA can, however, impact the emissions from vessel traffic through the service level it provides for waterways. Ensuring optimal traffic route depth for water transport and providing vessel traffic with up-to-date information on current conditions are the most important means of effecting emissions from vessel traffic. In the longer term, supporting the use of alternative fuels is also a central means of reducing emissions.