Recent weeks have brought a dark reality about Jakarta—the alarming levels of pollution. Jakarta consistently ranks among the most polluted cities globally3, causing respiratory distress and infections among its residents. The city's polluted air has triggered extensive discussions among the government, media, activists, and the public. The magnitude of the issue has attracted significant attention. Even some of my friends flew across the city, in search of better air quality.
Although recent rains and the ASEAN conference have temporarily alleviated the situation by encouraging remote work and online education, the underlying problem remains. Without substantial changes, the situation will deteriorate further, demanding revolutionary actions from the government, such as reducing coal burning at power plants or imposing strict limits on cars and motorcycles.
Measuring the extent of air pollution requires the use of the Air Quality Index (AQI), which quantifies air pollution levels based on the concentration of five key pollutants. Ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide are the primary components used to calculate AQI4. This index ranges from 0 to 500, with higher values indicating heightened pollution levels and greater health risks. The AQI is derived from pollutant concentrations over a specified timeframe, with the highest sub-index value determining the overall AQI for that location and time.
The contribution of each pollutant to the AQI varies depending on the location and time period. Urban areas typically experience elevated AQI levels due to primary pollutants like particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Conversely, rural regions often see high AQI values primarily driven by pollutants such as ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM2.5). As we focus on Jakarta, we'll investigate how restricting our mobility can influence the particulate matter (PM).