Silja Europa at Port of Helsinki. Photo: Tero Pajukallio

How port operations, wood-burning stoves and traffic impact air quality

Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY monitors air quality at five new locations in 2019: at the West Harbour, in Pirkkola, on the Länsiväylä expressway in Friisilä, on Talvikkitie in Tikkurila and in Kirkkonummi. The measurements are used to assess the impact on air quality of port operations, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, and traffic.

“HSY monitors air quality continuously both at fixed monitoring stations and at four movable stations placed at different locations in the Helsinki metropolitan area for one year at a time,” says Maria Myllynen, head of the air protection unit of HSY.

“During 2019, two of the movable stations are placed in Helsinki: they are used to monitor the impact of the West Harbour on air quality in Jätkäsaari as well as air quality in the Pirkkola area with single-family, semi-detached and row housing.

“The other two movable air quality monitoring stations in the Helsinki metropolitan area this year are located in Vantaa and Espoo respectively – on Talvikkitie in Vantaa’s Tikkurila and on the Länsiväylä expressway in Espoo’s Friisilä. An additional monitoring station is placed in the centre of Kirkkonummi.”

The impact of a harbour, stoves and fireplaces under scrutiny in Helsinki

Air quality monitoring operations in Jätkäsaari focus on the concentrations of air pollution produced by ships at the Port of Helsinki’s West Harbour, including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particles of different sizes. Air quality monitoring was begun on Tyynenmerenkatu in Jätkäsaari in the first week of January. Also monitored will be the concentrations of dust produced by the area construction sites. The monitoring of dust concentrations will begin at the beginning of March.

In Northern Helsinki, HSY focuses on the impact on air quality of the burning of wood in stoves and fireplaces as well as traffic in areas with single-family, detached and row housing. HSY’s air quality monitoring station in Pirkkola focuses especially on the concentrations of fine particles, black carbon and carcinogenic compounds. These measurements are complemented by light sensor sites comprising lightweight air quality monitoring instruments placed in the adjacent single-family, semi-detached and row housing site of Paloheinä. Additional sensors are used to study the dilution of emissions from traffic at various distances from Ring Road I.

Air quality in Tikkurila under special scrutiny

“HSY’s air quality monitoring network comprises 11 fixed monitoring stations in the Helsinki metropolitan area,” Myllynen explains. “These stations produce information on the concentrations of particles in the air, fine particles and nitrogen oxides, among other pollutants. Air pollutants can cause symptoms for people suffering from pulmonary and cardiovascular disorders, seniors and small children. The risk groups represent approximately 20 percent of the population.

“Exposure to air pollutants can be avoided by checking the current air quality. Anybody can easily do so on HSY’s air quality pages.” 

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Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY