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Jakarta Post

Air pollution in Jakarta, an invisible health threat

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    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta, Indonesia   /   Wed, August 15, 2018   /   12:02 am
Air pollution in Jakarta, an invisible health threat . (./.)

Looking back, two or three decades ago when the number of motorized vehicles in Jakarta was relatively small, the air that Jakartans breathed might have been okay and healthy.

However, today with the city’s high traffic environment, air quality has become one of the pressing issues that need to be addressed.

The capital’s streets are packed with hundreds and even thousands of fossil-fuel-generated private cars and motorcycles, which produce smog-forming emissions. These pollutant sources do not include the burning of coal and fuel oil from various industries, household trash and vehicle batteries in small garages. According to Jakarta’s Environment Agency, vehicle emissions are responsible for as much as 70 percent of the city’s air pollution.

Only few, however, are aware that air pollution in Jakarta has reached an alarming level, which, according to communications and sustainability consultant Nick Elliott, has become an “invisible threat”.

In a study on air pollution in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi (Greater Jakarta) in 2017, Greenpeace Indonesia revealed the air pollution in Greater Jakarta, with its high level of a carcinogenic pollutant called PM2.5, was three times higher than the maximum “safe” level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

“Data collected over the past year in Jakarta show that, aside from the rainy month of December, particulate air pollution is at or above the ‘unhealthy’ level 80 percent of the time,” Elliot said.

The WHO says that one death in every nine globally is caused by air pollution. “It’s an invisible threat that contributes to heart disease and the incidence of stroke, which by the way is the number one killer in Indonesia. It’s surely time to take action,” Elliot said.

The WHO data is supported by the outcome of a study conducted by the University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Public Health, which puts air pollution as a related cause in 58 percent of all illness in the city, compared to 35 percent about 10 years ago.

Elliot identified pollutants in major cities, which include lead (Pb), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide ( SO2 ), nitrogen dioxide ( NO2 ), ozone ( O3 ) and microscopic particulate matter (PM). “The invasiveness of particulate matter is one such a threat,” Elliot said.

Quoting the United States Environmental Protection Agency, he said, “the finer the particles, the more intrusive in penetrating the lungs and bloodstream.”

Two micrometer measurements describe the level of the problem, namely, PM10 and the even finer PM2.5, equivalent to 1/30 of the diameter of a strand of human hair, which easily penetrate the lungs.  

A study has found that eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, as well as coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath are among the short-term impacts of air pollution, particularly PM2.5, on human health. For the long-term, the microscopic particulate matter can cause degenerative diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease and cancer, according to heart specialist Dr. Djoko Maryono. Cardiovascular diseases, bronchitis and asthma are also on the list of diseases caused by PM2.5.

Indoor air quality 

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Poor outdoor air quality may also impact indoor air quality, especially because outdoor air can enter indoor rooms through ventilation or open windows or doors.

Given that people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, paying heed to indoor air quality is equally crucial, and finding solutions to indoor air pollution is an urgent matter. Air quality inside the home represented by concentrations of pollutants and thermal conditions may affect health, comfort and the performance of occupants.

Apart from outdoor polluted air, other indoor pollutant sources include smoke from gas-fired stoves, chemicals released from building materials, mold or spores, dust and dust mites. Chemicals released from building materials may cause headache, while mold spores may result in itchy eyes and a runny nose in sensitive individuals shortly after exposure.

While air pollution has yet to become a priority program for many, a growing number of forward-looking developers have provided homebuyers with solutions to managing indoor air quality, creating a high standard of air quality in the living space.

One such example in Jakarta is VERDE TWO apartments development by FARPOINT in the heart of the city center.

How to reduce air pollution

Understanding and controlling common indoor air pollutants can help tenants reduce their risk of health problems, such as allergies or even lung cancer, in the long-term.

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VERDE TWO’s Monteverde Tower applies the first advanced AC technology in Indonesia, with double-layered efficient filtration to give you clean fresh air inside the apartment. The advanced AC technology efficiently filters PM2.5 and hazardous particles to create a healthier and more comfortable environment.

The purifying heat recovery ventilation system utilizes heat exchange technology and an additional PM2.5 purifying double air filtration unit to solve problems caused by ventilation through windows.

With the system, both outdoor and indoor pollutants are treated well. The treatment of the polluted, humid and hot outdoor air can remove up to 99 percent of PM 2.5. While indoor PM2.5 is filtered and results in a dehumidified fresh air supply.

A filtered fresh air system as an integral part of air conditioning provides a comfortable indoor temperature all day and night, keeping unoccupied rooms fresh and avoiding condensation and mold formation. The system comes complete with monitors that allow the homeowner to check CO2 and PM2.5 particulate levels, among other aspects of air quality.

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Air pollution in Jakarta might be worrying, but VERDE TWO’s Monteverde Tower provides a healthier and more comfortable living space with this technology.

So, given the long period of time families spend indoors, those looking for a home, particularly in Kuningan CBD, should take indoor air quality into consideration, an essential way to live a longer and healthier life.

The 124 exclusive apartments with double private lifts have been designed and developed to fulfill home seekers’ need for an exclusive, luxury and healthy place to live, either as a home residence or as an investment. And it starts with ensuring high indoor air quality for its occupants.