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June Pelo
08-12-15, 22:25
As temperatures drop, more and more people in Finland are relying on wood to heat their homes. Wood use has risen in the past decade, driven by higher electricity costs, lower timber prices and ecological concerns. Burning wood does produce unhealthy fine particles and other forms of air pollution. Authorities are concerned that the growing popularity of wood heat will spur a spike in health problems. Wood heat is responsible for 40% of fine particle emissions in Finland... in addition to 55% of black carbon emissions and 80% of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions. It estimates that these cause more than 250 deaths annually from heart and lung diseases.

The risk for power shortages is great. Pohjolan Voima Oy mothballed three generators last summer, and plans to switch off another in January, leaving the nation reliant on imports of as much as 3,400 megawatts during cold spells in the coming months. That's more than the capacity of Finland's four nuclear reactors, which meet 27% of the country's demand. It's the first time in nine years that Finland's grid warned of a strained power balance before peak winter demand. With the nation's new fifth reactor delayed by nine years and not expected online until the end of 2018, the country's plight won't change for another three years, according to the grid.

The chair of the Finnish ice hockey association wants a total ban on snus (snuff) in ice hockey. The moist tobacco product, which is placed under the lip, is popular among hockey players in Finland, even though it's illegal here. The brown substance is legal in Sweden and some Finnish sports people use it as a less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco. The chair's proposal will be decided on by the association's board.


FAR, December 2015