Despite all the glimmer and shine of the Asian Games opening ceremony on Saturday (especially the beautifully choreographed performance by 1,500 Saman dancers, wow), it seems the government can’t distract the media from the threat of air pollution in the games’ host cities, especially Jakarta.
One media report the government really seemed to take notice of was an Al Jazeera’s article published on Aug 17, titled, “Air pollution welcomes athletes in Jakarta for Asian Games”. The article pointed out that the Indonesian government failed to meet its target of reducing air pollution levels in Jakarta from 184 micrograms per cubic meter to 25 micrograms per cubic meter, in line with the World Health Organization’s standard, with air quality index scores reading 154 micrograms per cubic meter three days before the games.
The Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK) today straight up said the report’s data is false and argued that the government’s own air pollution readings says air quality in Jakarta, especially around venues, is still safe.
“It’s not bad. Yesterday at 3:30pm, the report for air quality and PM 2.5 pollutants around GBK was 23, in Kemayoran it was 19 and in Palembang 12. So it’s good,” KLHK Environmental Pollution and Degradation Director General Karliansyah told Detik today (PM 2.5 being the level of fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or less in the air).
This particular PM 2.5 reading was taken by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). According to KLHK, by Indonesian standards, PM 2.5 only reaches dangerous levels when it goes over 65 micrograms per cubic meter.
Those readings, of course, were taken on a relatively quiet Sunday afternoon. BMKG’s air quality monitor, which you can view in real-time on their website here, shows that the PM 2.5 reading in Kemayoran has soared to as high as 54.6 micrograms per cubic meter this morning. Similarly, the area’s PM 10 reading (for particulate matter measuring 10 micrometers or less) has gone up as high as 121 micrograms per cubic meter, slightly below the 150 micrograms per cubic meter for unhealthy levels.
Jakarta has also intermittently appeared on rankings of cities with high levels of pollution on air quality monitoring site Air Visual and has even come out on top on numerous occasions recently. At the time of writing, Jakarta is fourth on the world’s major cities list with an AQI (air quality index) of 157, which is categorized as unhealthy.