Jakarta — Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) has dismissed the assertions that Jakarta holds the dubious distinction of having the world’s most severe air pollution, reports said.
Sigit Reliantoro, the Director General for Pollution Control and Environmental Damage at the Ministry, told reporters that a more comprehensive assessment involving data comparisons was essential to evaluate the air quality index within the capital city accurately.
Reliantoro, as quoted by Tempo English, said that the portrayal of Jakarta as the most polluted city in the world required revision, as an exploration of alternative information sources had yet to be undertaken.
He pointed to the air quality tracking website aqcin.org, which indicated that Jakarta’s pollution index stood at 160 last week, which was notably lower than readings from Yangon in Myanmar at 211, Copenhagen in Denmark at 500, and Alaska at 200.
Drawing from 2018 to 2023 data, Reliantoro highlighted that Jakarta had experienced commendable air quality both during the pandemic and pre-pandemic periods. However, he did acknowledge a recent uptick in pollution levels. This rise could be attributed to the method of air quality assessment in Indonesian urban centres, particularly Jakarta, which primarily occurs amid towering buildings that inhibit natural wind circulation. He said this environment fosters an atmosphere where pollutants accumulate.
Furthermore, vehicle emissions contribute significantly to the persistence of pollution, causing concentrations to escalate even several times beyond existing levels. Reliantoro described this phenomenon as the “street canyon” effect. According to him, the effect of wind rotation that is trapped in one place because urban buildings block it is a phenomenon that can interfere with air quality measurements.
Reliantoro noted that this phenomenon was not exclusive to Jakarta but extended to other major cities like Bandung. Due to the topography, air pollutants in these areas become trapped, necessitating the intervention of rain or wind to dissipate them.
According to the IQAir application data at 07:30 Jakarta time on Tuesday, August 15, Jakarta’s air quality was classified as the poorest globally, bearing an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 174, corresponding to the “unhealthy” category. The concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 was measured at 99.3 micrograms per cubic meter, much higher than the annual air quality guideline value set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
At the same time, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AQI: 177), Doha, Qatar (AQI: 164), Dhaka, Bangladesh (AQI: 152) and Kuching, Malaysia (AQI:148) were among the top five cities exhibiting high pollution levels, based on the same AQI metric. (nsh)
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