Wood burning and fine particles

Did you know that wood burning in households in the metropolitan area causes more fine particle emissions than traffic?

Fireplaces are used in approximately 80% of detached houses in the metropolitan area. The harmful effects of emissions caused by wood burning often peak in wintertime, resulting in lower air quality, especially in densely built residential areas with detached houses.

Fine particles pose the greatest environmental health risk and cause approximately 1,600–1,800 premature deaths per year in Finland. Wood burning accounts for approximately 13% of these. This means that, according to an estimate by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), small-scale wood burning causes approximately 250 premature deaths per year in Finland.

In the metropolitan area, wood burning causes more fine particle emissions than energy production or transport.

Approximately half of fine particle emissions related to combustion in the metropolitan area are estimated to come from the use of fireplaces. Heat-retaining fireplaces cause one third of these, and wood-heated sauna heaters cause one third of them.

Combustion-based particle emissions by source in the metropolitan area

The graph indicates where combustion-based fine particle emissions come from. Particle emissions from fireplaces have not decreased at the same pace as particle emissions from road traffic and energy production, meaning that their total share of particle emissions has increased. (Ilmansaasteiden päästötrendit pääkaupunkiseudulla, Helsinki Region Environmental Services HSY)

 Burn wood cleanly

If you burn wood in a fireplace, read the guide to low-emission wood burning on the HSY website.

Woodburning guide

Tips for reducing wood burning emissions

Only burn dry and clean wood
Light the fire correctly and ensure that it has enough air
Do not burn trash. Milk cartons, cardboard and paper should be recycled, not burned in a fireplace
Talk to your neighbour if smoke coming from their chimney disturbs you
Keep firewood in a dry and well-ventilated wood shed
Make sure that your fireplace and smoke flue are swept regularly

Small-scale wood burning affects the air we share

In addition to traffic emissions and road dust, wood burning is one of the top three things to reduce air quality in the metropolitan area. With our daily choices, we can all impact the quality of the air we share in the city and reduce exposure to harmful emissions.

Read tips for residents