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Water quality report: Swimming water in Finland is clean

Out of more than 300 beaches, only four were rated by the EU as poor in terms of water cleanliness.

Ninety-five percent of Finland's beaches and bathing areas were rated as excellent or good. Image: Yle

The water at nearly all of Finland's public beaches is safe for swimming, according to a recently published report by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Based on measurements from last summer, Finland ranked 11th in overall beach quality with 88 percent of beaches being considered excellent in the report. Austria and Malta came in at the top with the highest percentage of beaches classified as excellent.

Ninety-five percent of Finland's beaches and bathing areas fell into the excellent or good quality in the report, similar to metrics in earlier years.

Researchers studied 302 beaches. Of these which 266 were classified as excellent and 21 good, while six were only deemed sufficient and four were rated as poor.

Most of the swimming spots were inland, primarily at lakes, while about 80 were coastal beaches.

The report took into account concentrations of bacteria in the water that indicate intestinal contamination. This is monitored to assess the impact of wastewater, among other factors, on bathing water quality.

Blue-green algae not included in classification

Despite concerns about blue-green algae for swimmers in Finland, it was not included in the report.

Towards the latter half of the summer, many beaches and bathing areas are inundated with blue-green algae, a toxic cyanobacterial growth that can cause skin irritation and other problems for swimmer and pets. Information about the algae situation is posted at beaches and on municipal websites.

“Since the occurrence of blue-green algae in bathing water may vary even within one day, up-to-date information is not always available. A bather should assess the condition of the bathing water visually before entering the water, as bathing in water with blue-green algae should be avoided," according to Outi Zacheus, a senior planning officer at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)

To check the quality of your local swimming hole, you can check this interactive map (siirryt toiseen palveluun).