live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Moderate|| 72 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 22.2 µg/m³|
|Close your windows to avoid dirty outdoor air|
|Sensitive groups should reduce outdoor exercise|
|Saturday, May 15|
Moderate 54 US AQI
|Sunday, May 16|
Moderate 62 US AQI
|Monday, May 17|
Moderate 65 US AQI
Moderate 74 US AQI
|Wednesday, May 19|
Moderate 66 US AQI
|Thursday, May 20|
Good 46 US AQI
|Friday, May 21|
Good 35 US AQI
|Saturday, May 22|
Good 30 US AQI
|Sunday, May 23|
Good 31 US AQI
|Monday, May 24|
Good 25 US AQI
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Yangon, also known as Rangoon, is the largest city located in Myanmar, also formerly known as Burma. It was once the capital city of the country until the government relocated it to Naypyidaw in the northern region. Yangon is home to some 7 million inhabitants, making it the most heavily populated city in the country as well as its commercial and economic heart. Due to being of great importance to Myanmar’s economy, and with a large population, subsequently there is also a large amount of pollution that arises as a result of these features.
Looking at the readings of air quality taken over 2019, Yangon came in with a PM2.5 reading of 31 μg/m³ as its yearly average, putting it into the higher end of the ‘moderate’ ratings bracket, one that requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. Due to being on the higher end of this grouping, it is indicative that Yangon indeed suffers from some pollutive problems, with certain months of the year coming in with hazardous readings of PM2.5.
PM2.5 refers to particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, making it approximately 3% the size of a human hair, and in some cases much smaller, going as low as 0.001 microns in diameter. This small size makes it extremely dangerous to respire, and as such it is a major component used in calculating overall air quality and will be used to determine the pollution levels present in Yangon.
Yangon's yearly average of 31 μg/m³ was enough to rank it in 407th place out of all cities worldwide, as well as 1st place in Myanmar, showing that the air quality is less than desirable, but with some redeeming months where the pollution levels fall somewhat.
There are many causes of pollution present in Yangon and indeed the whole of Myanmar, causing hazardous buildups that have both long and short term effects for those who are exposed. One of the many causes would be vehicle emissions, with its large population making their daily commutes on a vast number of motorbikes, cars and other personal vehicles, many of which would run on lower quality fuels as well as diesel fuel, both of which put out higher levels of pollution than their cleaner counterparts would, especially on an internationally standardized level.
Other vehicles that contribute to pollution levels are heavy duty ones, automobiles above a certain weight such as trucks and lorries, often running on diesel. Besides being powered by fossil fuels, in cities such as Yangon there are less stringent rules in place regarding the age of the engines, and as such you may find way outdated and ancient models that are a further compounding factor in the increase in pollution levels.
Other sources would include emissions from factories, and with Yangon lacking a critical amount of development and infrastructure there would be an associated level of industrialization taking place, often with the side effect of unchecked pollution emissions from factories, which use large amounts of coal to produce their energy, putting out even more contaminants alongside the industrial effluence of whatever good is being manufactured. Other pertinent sources would be open burning of rubbish and organic waste, crop field burning and also poorly maintained construction sites and road repairs.
Observing the data taken over 2019, the months that came in with the highest levels of pollution in Yangon were at the beginning and end of the year, with PM2.5 levels starting to show a significant rise in October, jumping from 16.2 μg/m³ in September up to 26.1 μg/m³ in October, and then a further jump to 36.2 μg/m³ in November and a continued trend upwards thereafter.
This would no doubt have carried on into the next year, as the earlier months of the year in 2019 show the highest levels of pollution, despite there being data missing in January. The month with the highest levels of PM2.5 was February, with a reading of 60 μg/m³, putting this month in the ‘unhealthy’ ratings category, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ for classification, and as the name indicates, is of great detriment to those who are exposed to such poor quality air, especially if they belong to vulnerable demographics.
So, in closing, the months with worst pollution levels are from October through to May of the following year, with February and March having some of the highest readings on record for that year.
Contrasting to the previous question, as mentioned the worst times were at the beginning and end of the year, thus after May comes around, there is a significant drop in pollution levels, followed by a period of appreciable air quality, with June through to September having the cleanest air quality, with readings of 13.3 μg/m³, 11.9 μg/m³, 12.8 μg/m³ and 16.2 μg/m³ respectively.
With July, its reading of 11.9 μg/m³ actually put it into the ‘good’ ratings category, one which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 10 to 12 μg/m³ to be classified as such, a very fine margin of entry as well as being only 1.9 units away from moving into the most optimal group bracket of the World Health Organizations (WHO's) target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less. This showed that July was the cleanest month of the entire year, with its surrounding months also having vastly improved air quality.
With readings going as high as 60 μg/m³ as taken in February, and with many months that fell into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket, there would be a large amount of health risks during these times. Of note is that any reading above the WHO's target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less carries with it the chance for ill effects.
Some of these would include rapid aging and scarring of the lungs, leading to a decrease in full lung function as well as further susceptibility to respiratory ailments such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema as well as aggravated forms of asthma.