Indonesia: Air Pollution a Silent Killer for People Living in Jakarta With Asthma
Living with Asthma in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital which topped the list as the world’s most polluted city, is risky. People suffering from asthma have to do with masks and inhaler to prevent their health from deteriorating. The hazardous air is putting thousands of children’s health at risk.
According to IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company, Jakarta recorded its airborne concentration of the pollution particles known as PM2.5 outpace other heavily polluted cities like Doha, Riyadh and Lahore last week. Indonesia’s capital city has consistently ranked among the 10 most polluted cities globally since May.
The poor air quality is deadly for people suffering from asthma. Farah, young girl with asthma, shared that she has to carry an oximeter, a device which measures oxygen levels in the blood, to monitor her condition. She explained that for people with asthma, even if their oxygen levels fall just a little, they can really feel it. It’s not just the tightness, she says her chest really hurts. “Its hard to breathe. My asthma is severe and also hereditary. Every doctor told me to move out of Jakarta. ‘Get out of Jakarta if you want to get better, or you will continue to be like this’, they say.”
But Farah says she is tired as she lives in Jakarta. She cannot do anything else besides wearing a mask.
Sigit Reliantoro, a senior official at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, told a press conference last Friday that dry air in June, July, and August has invariably led to an escalation of air pollution in Jakarta. He said dry air typically means pollutants remain suspended in the air for extended periods. “Wildfires are also more common during dry seasons. Government research shows that vehicle emissions account for 44 percent of air pollution.”
Factories and coal-fired power plants are also to be blamed. Muhammad Aminullah, an activist who leads The Indonesian Forum for the Environment, said the government has not come down hard enough on these industries because of economic and political interests. He highlighted that ashes from burning coal are not properly managed.
It should be noted that Indonesia is the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal. The Southeast Asian country plans to phase out coal for electricity by 2056.