Smog from Russian fires causes concern in Finland: expert

8th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The raging wildfires in Russia are sending plumes of smoke as far as neighbouring Finland, where meteorologists warned Sunday that air quality had declined significantly in recent days.

"There has been an increase in dangerous particles (in the air), and there will likely be an increase in the health effects as well," Jaako Kukkonen, the head of the Finnish Meteorological Institute's air quality division, told AFP.

According to the institute's air quality measurements, the concentration of fine particles in the air rose to between six and 10 times the annual average in the area surrounding the capital Sunday afternoon.

"Of course, in Finland we are talking about a short-term exposure, so it is far less dangerous here than in Russia, in the area around Moscow," Kukkonen conceded.

The wildfires in Russia have killed 52 people, destroyed villages and covered Moscow with a choking smog.

The particles from the fires that had made their way to Finland are not a major concern to most people, but Kukkonen added: "I would advise people who suffer for instance from heart disease and asthma to be careful even in Finland."

These groups are also facing increased health risks due to record high temperatures in the country this summer, he said.

"This along with the increase in particles could cause some serious effects for these susceptible groups of the population," he added.

© 2010 AFP

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