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|2||Palembang, South Sumatra|
|3||South Tangerang, Banten|
|6||Bandung, West Java|
|8||Cileungsir, West Java|
|9||Surabaya, East Java|
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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 158 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in South Tangerang is currently 14 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Sunday, Oct 1|
Unhealthy 170 AQI US
|Monday, Oct 2|
Unhealthy 152 AQI US
|Tuesday, Oct 3|
Unhealthy 153 AQI US
Unhealthy 158 AQI US
|Thursday, Oct 5|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 137 AQI US
|Friday, Oct 6|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 134 AQI US
|Saturday, Oct 7|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 106 AQI US
|Sunday, Oct 8|
Moderate 94 AQI US
|Monday, Oct 9|
Moderate 80 AQI US
|Tuesday, Oct 10|
Moderate 84 AQI US
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South Tangerang is a city located in the province of Banten, Indonesia. It finds itself situated some 30km away from the capital city, and as such is counted as part of the greater Jakarta metropolitan area. Pollution levels in south Tangerang find themselves at particularly bad levels, with some very high readings of PM2.5 taken over the year of 2019, putting it very highly ranked in terms of the worlds most polluted cities.
PM2.5 refers to particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, putting it at approximately 3% of the size of a human hair. Due to its extremely small size (and consisting of many different chemical compounds and particles) it has a significant effect on human health when inhaled, and as such a high level of PM2.5 in the air is an indicator that the air is unsafe to breathe, so it is often used primarily to gauge pollution levels.
South Tangerang came in with an average PM2.5 reading of 81.3 µg/m³ in 2019, putting it directly into the ‘unhealthy’ bracket, which besides being just a normal descriptive term for how bad the air quality is, also requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 55.5 to 150.4 µg/m³ to be classed as such. This is an extremely high rating, with the reading of 81.3 µg/m³ putting it at the number one position out of all cities registered in Indonesia, as well as ranking it as 24th most polluted city in the world (as of 2019). As such the levels of air pollution are excessively bad, being highly harmful to those who have to breathe its air year-round, with consequences including a plethora of health issues, which will be discussed shortly.
There are a number of different causes for the high levels of pollution seen in both south Tangerang as well as country wide. With its extremely close proximity to the capital city of Jakarta, south Tangerang would see many off the same pollutive issues that Jakarta suffers from, although of note is that the levels of PM2.5 are nearly double that of Jakarta's, which came in at 49.4 µg/m³ in 2019. This shows that whilst they are both suffering from higher levels of pollution, conditions are considerably worse outside of the capital city.
The main causes of high pollution levels would be the high levels of vehicular emission, with many people who live there commuting back and forth to work in Jakarta, and with a constant flow of vehicles would come high concentrations of noxious pollutants and haze that can accumulate over areas of heavy traffic, as well as getting trapped within the roads and tall buildings of a city, unable to disperse and causing the excessively high readings as seen over the whole of 2019. Pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) would be very prominent, with both of them being released in high amounts from vehicles, in particular ones that still run on fossil fuels such as diesel.
Whilst nitrogen dioxide comprises a high amount of a cities levels of pollution, sulfur dioxide can also have environmental effects such as causing events of acid rain to occur (via the introduction of sulfur into rainclouds, thus causing them to become more acidic), which can cause massive damage to buildings and other structures, besides being a toxic pollutant when inhaled in its gaseous form.
Aside from the high amount of pollution given off from vehicles, south Tangerang and indeed the whole area of greater Jakarta is surrounded by a ring of coal and fossil fuel base power plants, all of which would emit massive amounts of pollution into the air, with particulate matter such as black carbon, soot and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) all being thrown into the atmosphere, where they can coalesce and form secondary pollutants (pollution caused via the chemical reactions of the variety of different particle matter in the air, forming larger varieties of more noxious gases and PM2.5).
Black carbon is also formed via the combustion of organic matter, such as ones found from open burn fires as well as from fossil fuels being used in vehicular engines. Besides having drastic effects on human health, it also has the ability to affect the atmosphere, with solar radiation being trapped by black carbon and being converted into heat, having a warming effect on the atmosphere that can cause climate problems.
To observe the data recorded over 2019, there were certain months that came in with massive PM2.5 readings. The main ones that stood out were June, July, September and October, all of which came in with readings in excess of 100 µg/m³. the highest out of all of these was June, which came in with a reading of 107.6 µg/m³, a number that was more than double that of south Tangerang's cleanest month, being January with a reading of 44.1 µg/m³.
It is apparent that from May through to November is when south Tangerang (and indeed many cities in Indonesia) suffer from their worst levels of pollution, with December and the first three months of the year showing slightly improved readings.
To take another city as an example, Pekanbaru, which came in at 3rd place out of most polluted cities in Indonesia, had a 2019 PM2.5 reading of 52.8 µg/m³. This is a fairly prominent improvement over south Tangerang's numbers, however what is important to compare is the pollution spike observed in Pekanbaru during the month of September. Pekanbaru came in with a reading of 214.9 µg/m³, putting it into the ‘very unhealthy” rating bracket (150.5 to 250.4 µg/m³) and being more than double than south Tangerang's absolute worst reading. The reason for this is because Pekanbaru is located in the Sumatra island portion of Indonesia, and as such would be subject to the massive amounts of smoke given off by the slash and burn farming practices occurring around here, massively skewing the data on this month. South Tangerang however, is thankfully free from this, otherwise its yearly average would have been disastrously higher in terms PM2.5 readings.
Some symptoms that one would suffer from when exposed to such high levels of PM2.5 year-round would be, but not limited to: aggravated forms of asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, as well as infections of the lungs and irritation to the airways. the nose, eyes, skin and mouth would all be subject to the same particulate matter irritation.
Heart diseases are also common, with increased risk of heart attacks and arrhythmias. For pregnant women breathing this air, their babies can be born prematurely, with a low birth weight or even mental and physical impairments, as well as rates of miscarriage being higher. The list could go on extensively, particularly to those who are vulnerable such as the elderly and young children, during the worst months of the year. As such, many preventative measures should be taken, to avoid the disastrous consequences of breathing such highly polluted air.