If you’ve got a suffocating sense of deja vu from reading that headline, that’s because this is far from the first time in recent memory that Jakarta has earned the ignoble distinction of being the city with the highest monitored levels of air pollution in the world.
This morning, Jakarta once again topped the index of the most air-polluted cities as compiled by air quality monitoring site AirVisual.
Based on readings from this morning, Jakarta’s Air Quality Index (AQI) score was 163. 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”.
Jakarta has actually seen far worse AQI ratings in recent months, including a “very unhealthy” level of 231 on June 25.
The Indonesian capital has been making regular appearances near or at the top of AirVisual’s index since mid-2018. In fact, Jakarta topped the list of most air-polluted cities in Southeast Asia in 2018.
In early July, a group of Jakarta residents filed a lawsuit against the government over the toxic levels of air pollution that regularly blanket the city. Parties named in the lawsuit include President Joko Widodo, as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Health, and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. The plaintiffs — which include activists, office workers and motorcycle taxi drivers — want to raise awareness about the issue and force the government to act.