Finland has world’s cleanest air, WHO says

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Cyclists and pedestrians in downtown Helsinki in 2014. The World Health Organization (WHO) says Finland has the best air on Earth. (Martti Kainulainen/AFP/Getty Images)
Finland’s air quality is better than that of any other country on earth, according to statistics from the World Health Organisation published by the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Monitoring stations suggest that there are some 6 microgrammes of small particles per cubic metre of air in Finland, the lowest figure recorded worldwide. Air quality in Estonia, Sweden, Canada, Norway and Iceland come close to that figure.

Asia and Africa have some of the worst air quality, according to the WHO, with nine out of ten people worldwide breathing polluted air. The lowest-ranking countries in the comparison were Uganda, Mongolia, Qatar, India and Cameroon.

The places with the worst air quality had quantities of small particles some ten times greater than the locations at the top of the ranking. The index is based on measuring station data from some 2,500 different locations collected between 2008 and 2016.

Distance from polluting industry

Pia Anttila of the Meteorological Institute says there are clear reasons why Finnish air is among the cleanest. She says the Nordics, Canada and Estonia are all far away from concentrations of polluting industry.

“For a long time we’ve been implementing environmental protections in industrial sectors,” said Anttila. “Our cars are also relatively good when you compare to the average global automobile.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit activist blasts Canada’s foot-dragging on dirty fuels ban in the Arctic, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finnish city sets ambitious carbon neutral goals, YLE News

Norway: Norway’s government goes green, keeps Lofoten Islands free of oil drilling, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Arctic flights save time, but fuel climate change, Cryopolitics Blog

Sweden: Preserving biodiversity in Sweden’s shrinking natural forests, Radio Sweden

United States: Washington urged to cancel offshore plans in Arctic, Alaska Public Radio Network

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