Tallinn has fourth cleanest urban air in Europe

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Tallinn's Old Town. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Tallinn ranks fourth in Europe in terms of urban air quality, data from the European Environment Agency shows.

The European Environment Agency compared cities with more than 50,000 residents which have air pollution monitoring stations. Tallinn was placed fourth, following Umea in Sweden; Tampere in Finland and Funchal in Portugal.

The air quality data is based on surveys conducted in 2019 and 2020 that measured the level of fine particulate matter in urban air.

In Tallinn, which has 444,556 inhabitants per 159.3 km2, this figure is 4.4 µg per cubic meter of air, which places the city fourth in Europe.

Estonian cities Narva and Tartu are also listed in the top ten cities, where pollution particles have been measured at respectively 4.8 and 5.2 µg per cubic meter.

Of the nearby capitals, Stockholm ranks ninth and Helsinki eleventh in the European Environment Agency's index.

Erik Teinemaa, head of the Environmental Research Centre's Air Quality and Climate Department, said population density plays a big role in the results and in Estonia this is much lower than in Central Europe.

Secondly, Tallinn is by the sea, alongside many other cities which make up the top 10, such as Helsinki and Stockholm, he said, meaning they have a different climate.

Reet Pruul, chief specialist at the ambient air and radiation department of the Ministry of the Environment, said air quality in Tallinn has been improving steadily for several years.

"Years ago, there was much more industry in Tallinn. This has also affected the fact that the air in Tallinn is much cleaner," she said.

Even though there is an increasing number of cars in Tallinn, new technology is offsetting their impact.

"Cars are also getting cleaner, quieter. In fact, pollution is more or less at the same level, more cars are being added, but their quality and their environmental behavior are better," Pruul said.

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said that although the air quality in Tallinn is one of the cleanest in the European countries, the improvement of the condition of ambient air must be constantly addressed.

"The Tallinn Development Strategy for 2035 and the Climate Plan also set the goal of reducing the impact of our urban life and economy on the climate, doing so in synergy across various areas," he said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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