Jakar­tans find it hard to breathe

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE - Cal­lis­ta­sia Ang­gun Wi­jaya

Any­one who wants to live a healthy life may have to con­sider mov­ing out of Jakarta, as the city con­tin­ues to climb up the rank­ings for the world’s worst air qual­ity.

Based on a real-time air qual­ity in­dex up­loaded to the Airvi­sual ap­pli­ca­tion at mid­day on Fri­day, Jakarta ranked third as the most pol­luted city in the world af­ter Bei­jing and Dhaka, among 70 cities mea­sured across the globe.

In mid-Au­gust, the ap­pli­ca­tion showed that Jakarta was at the top of the list, fol­lowed by Ankara, Turkey and La­hore, Pak­istan.

Res­i­dents may have ex­pe­ri­enced the wors­en­ing air qual­ity through hazy air and the sharp smell of ex­haust fumes from ve­hi­cles.

Fi­lani Olyvia, 25, a res­i­dent of Mam­pang Pra­p­atan, South Jakarta, said she was wor­ried about her health be­cause ev­ery day she uses an ojek (mo­tor­cy­cle taxi) to go to work.

“I’m afraid of catch­ing res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases, be­cause ev­ery day I have to deal with pol­lu­tion from mo­tor­cy­cles and cars. In Mam­pang, where traf­fic con­ges­tion is re­ally bad, I can spend a lot of time on the street,” she said.

Cur­rently, Fi­lani said she had two motorcyclist friends who suf­fered from res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems.

There­fore, she al­ways used a health mask while rid­ing an ojek in the hope of avoid­ing in­lesses, she said.

Green­peace In­done­sia re­vealed that air pol­lu­tion in Greater Jakarta, with its high ex­po­sure to a car­cino­genic pol­lu­tant called PM 2.5, was three times higher than the max­i­mum “safe” level rec­om­mended by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) of 25 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search con­ducted by Green­peace from Jan­uary to June, the air in Greater Jakarta was con­sid­ered “un­healthy” and haz­ardous for res­i­dents, es­pe­cially chil­dren, preg­nant women and the el­derly.

“In gen­eral, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in pre­ma­ture deaths re­sult­ing from strokes, heart dis­ease, res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions [ISPA] in chil­dren, lung can­cer and chronic lung dis­eases,” said Bon­dan An­driyanu, Green­peace cam­paign spokesman for cli­mate and en­ergy.

Us­ing the risk anal­y­sis from the Global Bur­den of Dis­ease Project con­ducted by the In­sti­tute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion, Green­peace found that the great in­crease of peo­ple who suf­fered from pol­lu­tion-re­lated dis­eases oc­curred in ar­eas that were highly ex­posed to the pol­lu­tant.

For ex­am­ple, in Cibubur, East Jakarta, the area with the worst air pol­lu­tion with PM 2.5 lev­els reach­ing 106 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­ter, chil­dren were at a 105 per­cent greater chance of suf­fer­ing from ISPA, while the risk of stroke sky rock­eted by 150 per­cent.

Green­peace’s find­ings are sup­ported by data from the Jakarta Health Agency that shows that res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases rank first among the 10 most com­mon dis­eases suf­fered by Jakar­tans.

Jakarta Smart City has also up­loaded data show­ing that thou­sands of Jakar­tans, es­pe­cially

Jakarta air qual­ity wors­ens Res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses on the rise

those who live near busy streets such as in Ci­lan­dak, Se­tiabudi, Pan­co­ran and Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, suf­fer from res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems.

In 2016, the num­ber of chil­dren in Jakarta who suf­fered from pneu­mo­nia, which can be trig­gered by air pol­lu­tion, was 41,053, al­most dou­ble the pre­vi­ous year’s to­tal of 24,193 af­fected chil­dren.

The sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the In­done­sian Doc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion (IDI), Moh. Adib Khu­maidi, said pneu­mo­nia could be trig­gered by ex­po­sure to PM 2.5.

In gen­eral, poor air qual­ity could cause res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems, he said.

Mean­while, de­spite the in­creased num­ber of cases of res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses in the city, the Jakarta Health Agency said it had not con­ducted re­search on the im­pacts of air pol­lu­tion on res­i­dents’ health.

How­ever, Dicky Al­sadik, head of en­vi­ron­men­tal health at the Jakarta Health Agency, said air pol­lu­tion could cause res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems as the tox­ins might dis­turb the func­tion of the body’s or­gans and neg­a­tively af­fect one’s im­mu­nity.

In or­der to guard them­selves from pol­lu­tion, Green­peace has sug­gested that res­i­dents start wear­ing N95 sur­gi­cal masks, in­stead of reg­u­lar dis­pos­able masks, to guard them­selves from PM 2.5.

“We also urge the gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a proper, pub­licly­ac­ces­si­ble air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem for res­i­dents,” he said.

Tech­ni­cal unit head of the en­vi­ron­ment lab­o­ra­tory at the Jakarta En­vi­ron­ment Agency, Diah Ratna Am­bar­wati, said next year the agency would pro­cure equip­ment to an­a­lyze PM 2.5, as it cur­rently only had de­vices to mon­i­tor PM 10.

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