Air pollution in parts of Reykjavík yesterday went above the healthy limit, and a major cause of this can be attributed to salt particles from Greenland, Vísir reports.
On the Air Quality page of the Environment Agency of Iceland, which measures levels of different kinds of air pollution in numerous locations around Iceland, fine particles—PM10—began to rise into unhealthy levels between 13:00 and 14:00 yesterday, as measured by the Grensásvegur station. At its highest point, at 19:00 last night, these particles reached a density of 233μg/m3. By comparison, the healthy limit for these particles is around 75μg/m3.
Levels of PM10 went back down to healthy levels at around 21:00 last night. While part of yesterday’s air pollution can be attributed to car traffic, a significant portion also came from an unlikely source: Greenland.
Meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson told reporters that salt particles from Greenland were carried over to Iceland by strong westerly winds. These winds, sweeping down from Greenland’s ice cap, carried salt particles from the sea off of Greenland’s eastern coast and made their way to Iceland, travelling a distance of about 900 kilometres.
The phenomenon is very uncommon, but not unheard of. More commonly in Iceland, this type of air pollution can occur when southerly winds carry particles from the vast fields of sands in South Iceland over the capital area.