The sunny weather that has graced the capital region of Finland recently has resulted in streets becoming dusty due to the melting of snow. According to air quality measurements taken by the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), the amount of street dust in the air is currently affecting the quality of the air, with areas that have heavy traffic being the most affected. Street dust causes health problems, especially for asthmatics and heart patients, but the amount of dust in the air can be controlled.
Breathing in street dust is harmful to everyone, and it affects the general comfort of the population. Street dust is made up mostly of fine particles of asphalt and grit used for road treatment. Studded tyres are a significant contributor to the dust particles, as they grind away at the asphalt. Traffic and wind stir up the dust, creating a harmful health hazard.
Health effects of street dust are most sensitive to asthma sufferers, young children, the elderly, and those with respiratory and heart diseases. However, street dust can cause discomfort and symptoms in anyone, including a runny nose, cough, and itchy eyes and throat. It often exacerbates the symptoms of those with heart and respiratory problems.
Cities do their best to clean the streets efficiently when weather conditions permit it. Individuals can also reduce the amount of street dust and its associated health risks by following the ten tips for the street dust season provided by HSY.
Firstly, avoid unnecessary driving. Secondly, opt for walking, cycling or public transport. If you do need to drive, use studded tyres as they produce less dust than winter tyres with studs. On days when street dust levels are high, try to avoid busy areas. By moving away from the busiest streets, even by just one block, the air is cleaner. Keep windows closed and ensure good sealing around doors and windows. Dry laundry indoors. Install efficient air filters in your home and keep them maintained. Change filters twice a year, in the spring and autumn. Before sweeping, wet the ground first to keep the dust under control. Finally, check the air quality status by visiting the HSY website.
In conclusion, street dust poses a health risk to everyone, and its effects can be felt on a large scale. However, by taking simple measures, such as using studded tyres, avoiding unnecessary driving and walking or cycling, and monitoring air quality, we can all contribute to cleaner air and better health.