The Jakarta Post
An illustration of traffic congestion. Typically, pollution from a highway or a crowded street will be densest around a 150-meter radius around it. (Shutterstock/Kichigin)
Jakarta has recently topped the list of the most polluted air in any metropolitan area in the world.
With conditions that seem to worsen every single day, many are wondering how to keep their body healthy despite the toxic smog they breathe. Around the city we can see more and more people wearing the typical green surgical mask, but is this really enough to protect us from this environment?
Here are some tips on how to stay healthy in one of the most polluted cities in the world:
Wear a mask in denser areas
It is recommended by the Jakarta Health Agency that residents should wear better quality facemasks in order to best deter polluted air from entering their lungs.
Residents should invest in N95 type facemasks as it can filter smaller particulates from the air. These masks have been proven to be effective as it is the facemask used by surgeons when dealing with patients who may have highly contagious diseases.
Avoid exercising outdoors during peak polluted hours
Daily morning runs or walks are a common form of exercise in the city. However, although exercising is essential, it does more harm than good when the air quality is not ideal.
It is best to save these exercises in the evening once the pollution has settled, or early in the morning before regular commuting hours.
Avoid high traffic areas
Typically, pollution from a highway or a crowded street will be densest around a 150-meter radius around it. This is where pollution is higher and is associated with high rates of asthma and reduced lung function.
When possible, try to avoid these areas or keep your time outdoors to a minimum. If it is unavoidable then it is best to invest in an N95 facemask as previously recommended.
Ventilate your home
In such humid environments such as Jakarta, it is tempting to shut the doors and windows of the house and leave the air conditioner on all day. However, there is just as much of a danger of indoor pollution as outdoor pollution.
It is necessary to ventilate your home in order to keep the air fresh and avoid sicknesses in stale air. It is best to do this between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. when carbon levels are low between the day’s two heavy commuting hours. If this is not possible then it can also be done late in the evening once traffic in the area has died down.
Take regular trips away from the city
It is important for our bodies to take breaks as the heavily polluted Jakarta air can be taxing on the immune system. You do not have to invest in expensive trips all the way to popular destinations such as Bali, but just far enough away from the city where pollution levels are not as high.
A well-needed break every few weeks might just be what your body needs in order to keep itself healthy on a day-to-day basis. (sal/kes)