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Indonesia in top 10 countries with worst air quality: IQAir report

Tempo - March 17, 2021

Tempo, Iqair.Com, Jakarta – The latest annual IQAir quality report on the world's most polluted countries in 2020 ranks Indonesia 9th and is listed as having generally unhealthy air quality index (AQI).

The IQAir website, operated by the reputable Swiss company, elaborates that the average US AQI figure this year was 141 with levels of PM2.5 being 5 times over the World Health Organisation's (WHO) exposure recommendation.

One of the key findings from the report is that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the results as in 2020, 84% of all monitored countries observed air quality improvements, largely due to global measures – one of which is lockdown policies – to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Air quality improvements across major cities in 2020 compared to 2019 include Beijing (-11%), Chicago (-13%), Delhi (-15%), London (-16%), Paris (-17%) and Seoul (-16%).

In Indonesia's South Tangerang, for 10 months of the year, the air quality is classed as "Unhealthy", and for the remaining 2 months, it falls into the "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" category. "Unhealthy" figures are between 55.5 and 150.4 ug/m3, whilst "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" are between 35.5 and 55.4 ug/m3. In the city of Pekanbaru, a "Very unhealthy "figure was recorded in September this year with a concentration of 214.9 ug/m3.

According to IQAir.com air quality is gradually getting worse. In 2017 a PM2.5 figure was recorded of 29.7 ug/m3 or "Moderate". In 2018 this figure rose to 45.3 ug/m3 or "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" and showed another increase in 2019 when concentrations measured 49.4 ug/m3, on average. These figures were recorded in the capital Jakarta but reflect the general trend throughout most of Indonesia.

By contrast, the cleanest air can be found in the city of Denpasar on the island of Bali. With a US AQI reading of 66 and a PM2.5 concentration of 19.4 ug/m3, it falls into the "Moderate" category (12.1-35.4 ug/m3).

An AQI figure is based on the measurement of five most abundantly found pollutants in the air. Mainly the fine particulate matter of PM2.5, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ground-level ozone (O3). Any recorded figure of over 100 is considered to be "unhealthy", so a figure of over 200 is classed as being "very unhealthy". These are based on the recommended guidelines by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

So what could be done to improve Indonesia's air quality? IQAir.com stated that it is generally believed that the regulation and control of land management needs to be stronger. The government needs to lay down guidelines stating how State Forest Land can be used. A limited amount of permits for exploration of the peatlands and forested areas should be introduced.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1443008/indonesia-in-top-10-countries-with-worst-air-quality-iqair-repor