AQI: It’s getting harder and harder to breathe in Jakarta

AQI scores throughout Jakarta at 8:30am on June 20, 2022. Photo:
AQI scores throughout Jakarta at 8:30am on June 20, 2022. Photo:

Say goodbye to the pandemic lull and hello to the fine particulates we get to inhale in Jakarta as life all but returns to full swing in the capital.

Jakarta once again has the honor of being the city with the highest monitored levels of air pollution in the world, scoring as high as 193 in Air Quality Index (AQI) at 6am today, according to air quality monitoring site IQAir.

AQI is a standardized measurement based on relative levels of five major air pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. AQI levels between 150 and 200 are classified as “unhealthy”.

In terms of PM 2.5 pollutants (the level of fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or less in the air), Jakarta’s measured 136µg/m³ this morning, or 27 times higher than the maximum set in the World Health Organization’s global air quality guidelines.

Don’t discard those face masks yet, even if they’re no longer mandatory outdoors.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta Environment Agency does not seem to see these alarming numbers as an immediate call to action.

“[Those numbers] are from a private source. We look at our own air quality monitoring stations,” agency spokesman Yogi Ikhwan said on Saturday.

He added that according to the city’s stations, Jakarta’s air quality was at a “moderate” risk level on Saturday, during which, of course, the capital is nowhere near as active as during weekdays.

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