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|South Tangerang, Banten
|Medan, North Sumatra
|Surabaya, East Java
|Bogor, West Java
|Bandung, West Java
|Palembang, South Sumatra
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level
|Air quality index
| 41 US AQI
PM2.5 concentration in Palembang is currently 2 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Monday, Feb 19
Moderate 73 AQI US
|Tuesday, Feb 20
Moderate 62 AQI US
|Wednesday, Feb 21
Moderate 55 AQI US
Good 41 AQI US
|Friday, Feb 23
Good 43 AQI US
|Saturday, Feb 24
Good 43 AQI US
|Sunday, Feb 25
Good 41 AQI US
|Monday, Feb 26
Good 48 AQI US
|Tuesday, Feb 27
Moderate 55 AQI US
|Wednesday, Feb 28
Moderate 56 AQI US
|Thursday, Feb 29
Moderate 57 AQI US
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Palembang is the capital city of South Sumatra. In 2019, it had an estimated population of almost 2 million. In December 2020 the air quality index (AQI) was “Good” with a recorded figure of 46 US AQI. The most prevalent pollutant was PM2.5 with a recorded concentration level of 11.1 µg/m³. At this time of year the air quality if often in the “good” group or in the “Moderate “group. These are according to figures as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Possibly the main cause of pollution in Palembang is from the forest fires which occur annually in the surrounding agricultural areas. The main pollutants produced are PM2.5 and PM10, soot or black carbon (BC) which is potentially carcinogenic. In addition, wood-burning also produces nitrogen oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO).
Palembang is not a large industrial zone, but there are several producers in the locality which are guilty of causing air pollution. There is a fertiliser factory, a cement production unit and an oil and gas refinery. There are also several mines operating in South Sumatra which transport the coal in open trucks to Palembang for onward shipment to Java or to be exported. There are also 14 rubber processing factories in and around Palembang who produce close to a million tons annually. However there are no still specific industrial zones, instead, they have been allowed to develop on what land becomes available.
There is a regional culinary delicacy called pempek which is produced here. Pempek is made from fish and tapioca flour and is very popular throughout Indonesia. So much so that over 1 ton of it is produced every day and exported to other cities and abroad.
Particulates of PM2.5 and PM10 are the main urban air pollutants which affect the environment and human wellbeing. A recent investigation was launched to look at the comparison between particulate matter in Jakarta and Palembang. PM 10 pollutants measure less than 10 microns in diameter so are easily inhaled. The analysis is conducted using figures from the Air Quality Index (AQI). The “moderate “category was the dominant category in Jakarta for the majority of 2015-2016. The main effect it had, apart from its effect on health, was to reduce visibility in and around the city. Throughout the year, there was just a single occasion when the level rose to “unhealthy” which was a strong indication of the presence of dust in the atmosphere. When studying the same period of time for Palembang, a similar situation was noticed with the exception of a few days in September and October when the levels rose alarmingly to the “hazardous” category. This was noted as being due to the neighbouring forest fires which were raging at that time of year. With this comes an increase of airborne dust particles and an increase of people suffering from asthma attacks, bronchitis and respiratory infections whilst being exposed to this poor quality air. Similar surveys conducted after these initial returned similar findings. The air quality in Jakarta was mostly “moderate” whereas the air quality in Palembang was "good".
A certain amount of pollution comes from the burning of fossil fuels in the production of power, in the factories and in transportation. But the main cause of pollution in Palembang is the smoke produced by the “slash and burn” practice which is so prevalent in the agricultural vicinity. This is a simple basic way of clearing land of bushes and shrubs. It is a technique that is used in many countries, but no more so than in Indonesia.
During the autumn each year the majority of south-east Asia was enveloped with smoke and dust emanating from Indonesia’s forest fires. The resulting smog hung over the country for almost two months and also engulfed the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Singapore. The extent was so bad that schools, airports and other forms of public transport closed until the situation became better. The medical specialists reported an increase of over 500,000 cases of patients suffering from respiratory complaints.
It has been brought to the attention of the world that Indonesia is among the top ten emitters of carbon, and during the times of forest fires, they elevate themselves into the world’s top 5.
Most of the land is cleared by small farmers but on behalf of international conglomerates. Vast monocrop plantations cover much of Indonesia which have elevated the country to the world’s number one producer of palm oil. Its annual output of almost 35 million metric tons has doubled since 2008 and more than two-thirds of this oil is now exported across the globe.
Out of the 472 million acres of land, 75 per cent is classed as “State Forest Land”. Slightly misleading as a third of this has no trees growing and consists of small shrubs, saplings and bushes. These characteristics make it an ideal target.
Many small farming communities live in such areas either farming for themselves or, more often, working for the large plantation owners. They have no legal right to be on the land but neither do they have access to protection or government services which are in place to help them.
There are a few NGOs that have helped some communities establish a legal right to farm the land where they stay. They are taught the basics rules of supply and demand and encouraged to be self-sufficient. Slash and burn is strictly prohibited.
The way people are affected by air pollution depends on many factors. The type and concentration of the pollutant and the length of exposure to it are very important when considering the implications.
People with pre-existing respiratory problems will suffer from lower levels of pollution than a fit, strong person would, under the same circumstances.
Individuals already suffering from asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will be very susceptible to poor quality air.
Pregnant women and children under the age of 14 years must take extra care under these conditions, as must senior citizens and those workers who work outdoors regularly.