Tallinn air among cleanest in major European cities

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Cars in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The air in Tallinn is among the cleanest in major European cities, a survey by the European Environment Agency reveals. Narva and Tartu also made the top ten.

The European Environment Agency compared cities of over 50,000 people that have an air pollution measuring station. Tallinn came in fourth, after Umea in Sweden, Tampere in Finland and Funchal in Portugal.

"Population density is a major factor when we compare that of Estonia to Central European cities. Secondly, Tallinn is a coastal city, as are Helsinki, Stockholm, and maritime climate is a factor, as are types of heating and vehicles," said Erik Teinemaa, head of the air quality and climate department of the Estonian Environmental Research Center.

Air pollution has been reduced by leaps and bounds in Tallinn.

"Tallinn used to have much more industry years ago. This change has also contributed to cleaner air. Those who remember the cellulose plant on Sossi Hill and the nearby meat processing plant and the smell that used to waft over the area," said Reet Pruul, chief specialist of outside air and radiation of the Ministry of the Environment.

And even though the number of cars in Tallinn is growing, they are becoming less polluting.

"Cars are getting cleaner and quieter. Pollution is more or less unchanged as while we are seeing more cars, they are also of higher quality and less polluting," Pruul said.

Dust from Central Asia arrived in Estonia before the Midsummer holidays and temporarily hiked the air pollution index. Samples taken on June 22 where quite dark, while the situation had normalized by the evening of June 24.

"It was mineral dust, sand basically. Foreign substances we inhale put strain on our immune system, force it to address these intrusions and leave it weaker elsewhere," Teinemaa said.

Air quality will return to its normal level once the dust passes.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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