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Subject: Finland readies for street dust season

Written By: Philip Eno on 03/29/16 at 4:58 am

A six-week operation to cleanse roads of microscopic dust particles associated with allergies and illness is beginning in Finland as winter snow and ice starts to melt.

The beginning of spring is also street dust season for Finns, as a mixture of salt, grit and asphalt is stirred up by dry and windy weather, causing irritation to eyes and throats, Finnish state broadcaster Yle reports. The use of studded winter tyres that damage the road surface also contributes, the Finnish Meteorological Institute says. It's a major operation to clear the streets of the dust, costing 2m euro (£1.58m) and requiring the authorities to move thousands of parked cars out of the way. This year's cleaning and rinsing schedule is starting two weeks earlier than usual, in an attempt to bring the dust-induced sneezing to a premature end.
People with conditions such as asthma are most at risk from the dust, but it can also cause symptoms for almost anyone, the Allergy and Asthma Federation tells Yle. Joggers and cyclists are particularly at risk, and the federation's Anne Vuorenmaa recommends face masks "as the best defence against micro-particles". According to the European Union's Lifenews publication, studies indicate that street dust is linked to asthma in children, as well as other serious health effects, such as increased mortality and hospital treatment due to respiratory illness.

Despite advance warnings, it's the approximately 5,000 car owners who don't move their cars who frustrate the clean-up. "It's a huge job that really slows us down," says Pekka Isoniemi from the Helsinki Public Works Department

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