Air Quality

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In Oulu, the most significant sources of air pollutants are traffic, energy production and industry. In addition to local emissions, air quality is also affected by air pollutants transported from elsewhere. Emissions from traffic are mainly nitrogen oxides and particles. Industrial emissions are mainly nitrogen oxides, particles and odor emissions. Emissions from energy production are mainly nitrogen oxides.

Air quality monitoring

Air quality in Oulu is monitored on three fixed measuring stations. The stations are located in the city centre, Nokela and Pyykösjärvi.

Air quality monitoring is conducted as joint air quality monitoring with the city and the energy production and industrial facilities. The joint monitoring agreement includes the Oulu Region Environmental Department, Oulun Energia Oy, Stora Enso Oulu Oy, Kemira Chemicals Oy, Kraton Chemical Oy, Fermion Oy, Adven Oy, Peab Industri Oy, Port of Oulu Ltd and Kiertokaari Oy. Monitoring is conducted by the city's Environmental Protection unit.

Air quality measurements and the quality assurance are acquired as an outsourced service from Aeri Oy. Air quality monitoring complies with Aeri Oy's quality system. A written description of the quality system can be found on Aeri Oy's website: Air Quality Measurements' Quality System Description (in Finnish) (Aeri Oy)

Air quality measuring stations in Oulu

The city centre measuring station

Pyykösjärvi measuring station

Nokela measuring station

Air quality reports

The air quality measurement results are summarized in a report once a year. The annual report also includes information on the amount of air pollutant emissions.

Air quality in 2022 (in Finnish) (pdf)

At the end of 2008, Oulu celebrated its 30 years of continuous air quality monitoring. The period is one of the longests in Finland, and it keeps continuing. In honour of the 30 years of measuring air quality, a review of the development of air quality monitoring in Oulu, based on newspaper clippings, has been appended to the 2008 annual report. The newspaper clipping review begins on page 43 of the annual report.

30 years of continuous air quality monitoring beginning on page 43 (in Finnish) (pdf)

The City of Oulu air quality assessment 2021

The City of Oulu Air Quality Assessment 2021 assessed the impacts of emissions from car traffic, energy production, industry and property-specific heating on the air quality. Dispersion model calculations were used to examine the concentrations of outdoor air pollutants and the regional distribution of pollutants. Based on the findings to the impact of different emission sources on air quality was also assessed.

Based on the results of the model calculations, it can be estimated that the air quality in Oulu is generally good. Concentrations decrease rapidly as the distance from the busiest traffic routes and energy production and industrial plants increases. The air quality in the area is most significantly affected by nitrogen oxide emissions from car traffic, street dust, domestic heating and long range transported fine particles. The impact of emissions from energy production facilities and industry on air quality is small. Plant emissions are usually released from high chimneys, from where the pollutants effectively spread and dilute into the air, not impacting breathable air quality.

In addition to emission dispersion model calculations, the study included an assessment of the representativeness of the measuring stations and an air quality monitoring plan to the City of Oulu.

The City of Oulu Air Quality Assessment 2021 (in Finnish) (pdf).

Informing about air quality

You can get real-time, hourly updated information on air quality in Oulu and other locations in Finland on the national air quality portal at You can find information on the location of the measuring stations in Oulu on the map, the pollutants measured and the verified measurement results. 

The Finnish Meteorological Institute website also informs readers about pollutant limit value level exceedings (in Finnish).

Air quality is informed on the website using the air quality index calculated on the basis of measurement results. The air quality index describes air quality as good, satisfactory, tolerable, poor or very poor. In recent years, air quality in Oulu has mostly been good or satisfactory. Poor or very poor air quality can cause symptoms for vulnerable groups such as children and elderly and people with lung or heart disease and allergies.

Street dust

Street dust affects the air quality in Oulu urban areas the most. At times street dust manifests in high concentrations of inhalable particles. Street dust concentrations are usually at their highest in April and May, but street dust can linger in the air in late autumn as well. Half of street dust consists of particles from road pavement worn down by studded vehicle tyres. About a quarter of the dust is grinded road sanding materials and another quarter is dust from tyres, vehicle brakes and similar materials dust.

In Oulu, limit value exceedings for inhalable particles (PM10) take place in few cases annually, usually in the city centre and in Pyykösjärvi district.

Formation of street dust can be prevented and street and roads cleaning can be enhanced with various actions. Various ways to combat street dust are presented in solution cards on PÖLYBAT website.

Burning wood at home

Small-scale wood combustion in stoves, fireplaces and sauna stoves can decrease the air quality in densely built detached house areas. Especially on cold winter days, small-scale wood combustion can be harmful to health. In addition to harmful fine particles, emissions from wood combustion also contain many other harmful compounds, such as carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Every fireplace user can reduce small-scale wood burning emissions and harmful effects by taking into account the instructions concerning the use of fireplace.

You can find lots of information and tips on how to acquire and store wood, how to use a fireplace and how to heat a wooden sauna on HSY Burn Wood Cleanly website.

Please remember that waste management regulations prohibit the disposal of waste by burning. It is allowed to burn dry, untreated or unpainted wood waste as well as dry twigs and branches in a fireplace on the property. Paper and cardboard may be burned only in small quantities when making fire to the fireplace. 

Smoke harm and duty of tolerance

Burning clean and dry wood in an appropriate fireplace is allowed in all of Finland. According to the act on neighborhood relations (Naapuruussuhdelaki) the party disturbed by the harm is subject to a duty of tolerance. Not all smoke can be avoided when using fireplaces. Neighbors must tolerate smoke harm within regular limits. It is every community member's duty to tolerate reasonable and appropriate small-scale wood burning in the neighbourhood. Authorities do not have to intervene in all smoke nuisances detected and reported by residents.

In case of any harm caused by waste burning or due to an unreasonable burden caused by smoke, please contact the environmental protection or health protection official of the Oulu Region Environment Office via the electronic feedback service


More information on air quality pollutants and their effects is available in the following links:

More information on air quality regulations, instructions and real-time, updated air quality in Finland and elsewhere in Europe is available in the following links:

Environment Office of the Oulu Region
Environmental Protection
Environmental Protection help line is open on weekdays 9.00-15.00. E-mail is read on weekdays.
The Environmental Office of the Oulu Region
Environmental Health Care
Environmental Health Care on-call service is open on weekdays 9.00-15.00. E-mail is read on weekdays.