Road dust

Did you know that 50% of road dust is caused by the use of studded winter tyres?

In the spring, when snow and ice melt, road surfaces dry and air quality in the city deteriorates as traffic and wind stir up the road dust that has accumulated on streets during the winter.

It is estimated that half of the road dust accumulated during winter is caused by studded tyres. Switching to friction tyres is one of the most effective ways of reducing road dust generation. At present, more than 70% of cars use studded tyres in traffic in Helsinki in the winter.

Approximately 40% of city residents suffer from symptoms caused by road dust.

The intensity of the street dust season varies annually, largely due to variations in winter and spring weather conditions. Road dust mainly consists of material detached from the road surface, which is ground up by studded tyres, in particular, and gritting material. Dust is also generated on construction sites.

Road dust rises in the spring

The diagram shows the average daily road dust content in busy areas in the metropolitan area in the spring at normal weather conditions. Although the amount of road dust varies annually, its impact on air quality is clearly visible every spring. When road dust levels exceed limit value levels, air quality has clearly deteriorated.

Helsinki aims to increase the share of friction tyres in urban traffic in Helsinki from the current level of less than 30% to 70% by winter 2030–2031.

Studies show that one of the most effective ways to reduce road dust is to replace studded tyres with friction tyres. In the winter season 2020–2021, around 28% of traffic in Helsinki was driven on friction tyres.

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Remember these tips to reduce the impact of road dust on you and your family

Select a quieter and cleaner route during the road dust season.
Replace and maintain the air filters in your home regularly.
When gardening in the spring, sweep sand in your yard when it is moist.
Do not use a leaf blower to remove sand.
Choose cycling or walking on shorter journeys.
Choose friction tyres in winter and change to summer tyres on time.
Employ proactive driving. It is kinder to tyres and streets and reduces vehicle emissions.
Move your car in good time on streets that are to be cleaned during street cleaning.

Road dust affects the air we share

Road dust is one of the top three things to reduce air quality in the metropolitan area, in addition to traffic emissions and small-scale wood burning. 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