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Jakarta air quality among world’s worst

Switzerland-based pollution mapping service AirVisual revealed that Jakarta had the world's worst air quality on Friday last week. It was listed as the world's second worst on Wednesday evening. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Jul 4, 2019, Jakarta Globe. Switzerland-based pollution mapping service AirVisual revealed that Jakarta had the world’s third-worst air quality on Wednesday, when it was categorized as “very unhealthy,” while air quality in the Indonesian capital was described as the worst globally on Friday last week, reported the Jakarta Globe.

AirVisual bases its listings on the United States Air Quality Index (US AQI), which serves as a yardstick, running from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health risk. According to the AirVisual website, Jakarta had an AQI score of 154 on Wednesday evening, second only to Santiago, Chile.

Greenpeace Indonesia said air quality in Jakarta was only considered healthy on 29 days in 2017, while 238 days were described as moderate and 92 unhealthy. The city’s air was considered unhealthy on 250 days last year.

Bondan Ariyanu, energy spokesman for the environmental activist group, said pollution particles are very small and enter a person’s bloodstream through the lungs.

“It depends on where it ends up, because the particles are microscopic; if they get into the heart, it can cause heart disease. If it goes to the brain, it can cause a stroke,” he said.

Bondan said the government must take steps to address the problem, as the city’s existing air quality control policy is no longer effective. He advised the government to take an inventory of emissions research.

“We must receive regular updates on air quality, so it can remind people and help the government make the right policies,” he said.

He added that research data could help identify the sources of pollution, so the government can issue more effective policies to address the problem at the root.

“If we don’t know the source, our policies cannot hit the right target and it wouldn’t be effective,” Bondan said.

He suggested adding more air-quality sensors. Based on the size of the city, which is around 666 square kilometers, it would require at least 66 sensors.

Jakarta Roadmap

Andono Warih, acting head of the province’s environmental department, said transportation is the main source of pollution in Jakarta and that he had drawn up a roadmap to reduce air pollution.

“Transportation is the main source, and all efforts to control air pollution have been included in the Jakarta Cleaner Air 2030 roadmap,” Andono said on Tuesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

One of the department’s efforts involved vehicle emissions tests. Residents can use a free mobile phone application, which they can download from Google Play, to apply for an emission test to be performed on their vehicles. The app records vehicles’ registration numbers when they pass the test.

The Jakarta administration will improve public transportation, promote environmentally friendly fuel and expand car-free areas.

“We will also add more green spaces in Jakarta; add more trees, so they absorb pollutants,” Andono said.

Social Media

News of Jakarta’s poor air quality also trended on social media under the hashtag #setorfotopolusi, which calls on netizens to post photos of the cityscape showing air pollution. Photos taken from aircraft, drones and skyscrapers show how dirty the air really is, while some users also draw comparisons with how the air in same area used to be in the past, and with the air quality in other cities.

The Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) meanwhile plans to file a class action lawsuit against President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the provincial governments of Jakarta, Banten and West Java, as the parties responsible for the air pollution in the capital.

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