Jakarta has most polluted air in Southeast Asia: Study

2019_01_16_63196_1547653415._largeJakarta ranks first as city with the worst air quality in Southeast Asia last year, a recent study has shown.

The study by Greenpeace and AirVisual IQ published on March 5, monitored air quality in hundreds of cities across the globe. Jakarta was ranked first, followed by Hanoi, for the worst air quality, the head of Greenpeace Indonesia, Leonard Simanjuntak, said.

Across the globe, Leonard added, Jakarta was ranked 161st for cities with the worst air quality. New Delhi was in first place.

“Four- and two-wheeled vehicles exceed Jakarta’s capacity. There is almost no control over them. It’s easier for people to use private vehicles in Jakarta,” he said as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.

Another factor, according to Greenpeace, was coal-fired steam power plants (PLTU) located around Jakarta. The PLTUs contributed 33 to 36 percent to air pollution in Jakarta.

“There are PLTUs around Jakarta that are situated within a 100-meter radius of each other. It also contributes seriously to the level of air pollution in Jakarta,” Leonard said.

He explained that the daily air quality average in Jakarta, according to the PM 2.5 indicator, last year was 45.3 micrograms pollutant particles per cubic meter.

“The daily average air quality in Jakarta is 4.5 times worse than the limit set by the World Health Organization [WHO]. That number also increased compared to 2017, when the average daily air quality in Jakarta was 29.7,” Leonard said.

The WHO has set an average air quality guideline of 25 micrograms per cubic meter daily.

via Jakarta has most polluted air in Southeast Asia: Study – City – The Jakarta Post

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Moon proposes artificial rain with China to clear Seoul air

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With the South Korean capital’s air quality deteriorating to a never-before-seen level, President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday instructed ministries to draw up countermeasures such as artificial rain, in coordination with China, which is seen as a primary culprit.

The atmospheric concentration of PM2.5 — particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, which can lodge deep in the lungs — reached an average 135 micrograms per cubic meter Tuesday in Seoul, the Ministry of Environment said. The level exceeds the earlier record of 129 micrograms per cubic meter from January, and is nearly four times the South Korean standard for air quality.

Moon cited artificial rain over the Yellow Sea as an example of a countermeasure, even though an experiment failed in January. But it is still unclear whether that would deliver the desired effect. Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae said restrictions of car traffic and economic activities should be considered.

On early Wednesday morning, Seoul had the world’s worst air quality in a ranking compiled by air-quality information provider AirVisual — worse than New Delhi and Shanghai. Hazy visibility from even a few hundred meters away has not been uncommon here since last year. Stagnation of air flow due to a high-pressure system around the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday seems to have led to the high PM2.5 concentration.

Media outlets are reporting on air pollution as one of the top issues daily, showing pictures of people wearing respirators.

PM2.5, which the environment ministry calls carcinogenic, has become a source of serious concern for residents. Much of the pollutant is thought to come from China, as factory emissions and yellow dust from deserts travel to South Korea on the prevailing belt of winds known as the westerlies.

The Chinese side has given a mixed response. “I don’t know if there is sufficient evidence in Korea that the smog in South Korea comes from China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in his regular press conference Wednesday, adding that the cause of the pollution and how to effectively manage it must be investigated “in a scientific manner.” But he also said cooperation among parties “is of course good.”

Tackling air pollution was one of Moon’s campaign promises in the 2017 election. Nearly two years into his tenure, his approval rating could take a hit if he fails to address the worsening problem.

via Moon proposes artificial rain with China to clear Seoul air – Nikkei Asian Review

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22 of world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, Greenpeace says

Analysis of air pollution data finds that 64% of cities globally exceed WHO guidelines

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Twenty-two of the world’s 30 worst cities for air pollution are in India, according to a new report, with Delhi again ranked the world’s most polluted capital.

The Greenpeace and AirVisual analysis of air pollution readings from 3,000 cities around the world found that 64% exceed the World Health Organization’s annual exposure guideline for PM2.5 fine particulate matter – tiny airborne particles, about a 40th of the width of a human hair, that are linked to a wide range of health problems.

Every single measured city in the Middle East and Africa exceeds the WHO guidelines, as well as 99% of cities in south Asia and 89% in east Asia. Since many cities, particularly in Africa, do not have up-to-date public air quality information, the actual number of cities exceeding PM2.5 thresholds is expected to be much higher, the report authors said.

The report is based on 2018 air quality data from public monitoring sources, such as government monitoring networks, supplemented with validated data from outdoor IQAir AirVisual monitors operated by private individuals and organisations.

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India dominates the top of the list. The tech hub of Gurugram, a city just to the south-west of Delhi which was previously known as Gurgaon, and where international firms including Uber and TripAdvisor have headquarters, ranked the most polluted in the world with an average of more than 135 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre (µg/m3) throughout the year. Delhi is ranked 11th.

Faisalabad in Pakistan is ranked third with 130 (µg/m3), with Lahore 10th. Dhaka in Bangladesh is ranked 17th. The only other country to feature in the top 30 is China, which appears five times, including Hotan in the western Xinjiang province (eighth) and the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar (19th).

The highest-ranking capital cities are Delhi, Dhaka and Kabul in Afghanistan (52nd). The Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, is the most polluted European city with an annual average of 38.4 µg/m3. London is the 48th most polluted capital with 12.0 µg/m3 and Washington DC 56th with 9.2 µg/m3.

“Air pollution steals our livelihoods and our futures, but we can change that,” said Yeb Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “We want this report to make people think about the air we breathe, because when we understand the impacts of air quality on our lives, we will act to protect what’s most important.”

The WHO estimates that 7 million people a year die prematurely from exposure to air pollution globally, with the World Bank calculating the cost to the world economy in lost labour as $225bn.

via 22 of world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, Greenpeace says | Cities | The Guardian

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22 of the top 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India

India accounts for seven of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution, according to a new report, but previously smogbound Chinese cities have seen a marked improvement.

Gurugram, a suburb of the Indian capital New Delhi, is the world’s most polluted city, according to Greenpeace and AirVisual, which found it had an average air quality index of 135.8 in 2018 — almost three times the level which the US Environmental Protection Agency regards as healthy.
In two months of last year, the AQI in Gurugram — as measured by levels of fine particulate matter known as PM 2.5 — was above 200. The EPA regards this as “very unhealthy” and warns that “everyone may experience more serious health effects” if exposed.
According to the report, air pollution will cause around 7 million premature deaths globally next year and have a major economic impact.
“Air pollution steals our livelihoods and our futures,” said Yeb Sano, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “In addition to human lives lost, there’s an estimated global cost of 225 billion dollars in lost labor, and trillions in medical costs. This has enormous impacts, on our health and on our wallets.”

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The problem is particularly pronounced in South Asia. Eighteen of the world’s top 20 most polluted cities are in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, including the major population centers of Lahore, Delhi and Dhaka, which placed 10th, 11th and 17th respectively last year.

Climate change “is making the effects of air pollution worse by changing atmospheric conditions and amplifying forest fires,” the report said, while noting that the key driver of global warming, burning fossil fuels, is also a major cause of dirty air.

“What is clear is that the common culprit across the globe is the burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — worsened by the cutting down of our forests,” Sano said.

“What we need to see is our leaders thinking seriously about our health and the climate by looking at a fair transition out of fossil fuels while telling us clearly the level of our air quality, so that steps can be taken to tackle this health and climate crisis.”

While South Asian countries, along with China, are the worst affected, air pollution is a global issue.

Of the 3,000 cities measured in the report, 64% exceeded the World Health Organization’s annual exposure guidelines for PM2.5.

PM2.5 includes pollutants such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which can sneak deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system. Exposure to such particles has been linked to lung and heart disorders, and can impair cognitive and immune functions.

Every single city included in the report in the Middle East and Africa exceeded WHO guidelines for PM2.5, as did 99% of cities in South Asia, 95% in Southeast Asia, and 89% in East Asia.

“As many areas lack up-to-date public air quality information and are for this reason not represented in this report, the total number of cities exceeding the WHO PM2.5 threshold is expected to be far higher,” the report warned.

One bright spot was China, once the world’s poster child for urban air pollution. The report found that average concentrations of pollutants fell in Chinese cities by 12% from 2017 to 2018, while the capital Beijing has fallen out of the top 100 most polluted cities following concerted efforts to get air pollution under control.

China’s most polluted city in 2018, according to the Greenpeace/AirVisual report, was Hotan in the far west. Baoding, which once ranked among the worst in the country, is now at number 33. When CNN visited in 2015, residents said they often couldn’t see neighboring buildings because the air was so smoggy.

While China saw improvement, however, many neighboring countries suffered major increases in pollution, including in Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.

In January, authorities in Bangkok deployed planes with special rainmaking capabilities — a technique known as cloud seeding — to relieve persistent pollution in the Thai capital. In the same month, cities across South Korea, China and India reported major spikes in air pollution, as winter fuel burning contributed to the smog blanketing the region.

via 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India – CNN

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Air Pollution: Scarves do not help in fighting city’s air pollution: Experts

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Masks are better, research organisation plans to analyse options

The scarves worn by many two-wheeler riders in the city or even pieces of cloth wrapped around the nose are ineffective in fighting air pollution around us. A Pune based institute, the Chest Research Foundation, revealed the startling fact and added that it would soon commission a study on the masks that could be used to check the health hazard and determine its efficiency.

“The air quality we breathe in the state, including that of the city, is unhealthy as the number of pollutants and particulates are beyond the standards mentioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” said Sundeep Salvi, the director of the foundation.
Salvi said that India has the second highest number of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the world. “The ambient air pollution caused by construction work, dust and other weather conditions scores over vehicular pollution, household pollution and the pollution caused by smoking tobacco,” he added.

The director said hence it becomes very important to take steps like preventive measures and treatment to address the air pollution concerns that are increasing daily.

Salvi revealed that a study would start soon to understand which masks work best for particular air quality and conditions. He said that a normal mask is about 40 per cent more efficient than scarves/cloth used to cover the face.

“Masks offer much better protection against bad air quality. However, there are a number of models and companies producing them. It can become a difficult task to select the right mask for an individual,” he said.

Salvi said that study would include understanding different components of these masks including the filters, the layers that go in filtering the different layers of pollution and the comfortable aspect of it.

The research would also include details on the capacity of each mask to filter the amount of particulate matter in the air. “Some masks have many filters but this may make it difficult to breathe when the air is heavy. Whereas some masks are able to filter between 95 per cent to 99 per cent of particulate matter,” he said.

Salvi told Mirrorthat in such cases, the cost factor plays a determining role in how much one wants to spend and effectiveness needed or health concerns that need to be addressed.

“Hence the study becomes important. Moreover, air filters and purifiers installed indoors and polluted junctions in various parts of India are a reality. Treating then also becomes a point of concern,” he added.

“People should learn to own the fact that they are equally responsible to the bad air quality they breathe as others surrounding them. Measures like massive plantation, devising innovative technologies that absorb pollutants in the air and reducing the emissions should be taken by the people,” he said.

Gufran Beig, senior scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), said, “The air quality of Pune is much better compared to Mumbai or New Delhi. However, there are preventive measures that need to be taken.”

Beig said that the measures will have to be taken especially when the particulate matter (PM) levels go beyond 60-3. The PM10 levels in Pune were 61on Sunday and expected to reach 74 in the next three days.

via Air Pollution: Scarves do not help in fighting city’s air pollution: Experts

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Italy’s polluted Po Valley gasps for fresh air

poIt is only the end of February, but air pollution in Milan has already exceeded the legal limit for 2019, and the Po Valley swims in a soupy smog.

“I can really feel when there’s smog, I suffer all winter long,” 45-year old Milan local Fabio Cigognini told AFP, describing the asthma-like symptoms which plague him during the cold months.

“We breathe in poison, but no-one tells us anything,” he said.

Set against the mountains, far from the ocean and cleansing sea breezes, Italy’s major northern city and the Po Valley have always been at a disadvantage, climate wise.

But with air pollution at “alarming” rates – among the highest in Europe – local authorities have turned to a combination of tactics to help the city and the valley breath again.

“The Po Valley is very unhappily situated for atmospheric pollution in terms of climate and geography,” says Damiano Disimine, head scientist in the Lombardy for Italy’s environmentalist lobby Legambiente.

“Wind is rare and there are frequent and prolonged episodes of climatic inversion. This means that the air is colder in the plains than in the mountains, and is still,” he said.

“On a European scale, the air pollution level is comparable only to southern Poland, where there is a coal industry and frightening sources of pollution”.

– Action plan –

In Lombardy, coal-fired power stations are closed and the use of heavy fuel oil for heating has been banned for 20 years.

In the vast plain, which runs from the Apennines to the Alps, “a quarter of the pollution is caused by road traffic, 45 percent by domestic heating and the rest by industrial and agricultural emissions,” says Lombardy environment councillor Raffaele Cattaneo.

The region produces vast amounts of animal waste, a big contributor to pollution. It delivers more than 40 percent of Italy’s milk production, for example, while over half of the Italian pig production is located in the Po Valley.

Lombardy’s action plan — drawn up in coordination with three other regions in the valley — is based on those three factors.

The circulation of dirty vehicles is limited in certain areas, especially when the level of coarse dust particles (PM10) exceeds the threshold for four consecutive days.

The same goes for heating in homes and offices. And those who buy greener heating systems or upgrade their home insulation can get financial assistance.

There are also measures for agriculture — as a chemical reaction between the ammonia in fertiliser and the nitrous oxide from diesel vehicles accounts for up to three quarters of particles, Cattaneo said.

Air pollution has decreased significantly in recent years as a result.

From 2005 to 2018, the average PM10 concentration in Lombardy dropped from 46 to 29 mg/m3, and the number of days in which the 50 mg/m3 limit was breached in the region dropped from 119 to 40.

– Situation ‘alarming’ –

Still, pollution levels exceed a 35-day limit however, breaking EU law. And the dry, sunny winter on the plain does not bode well for 2019’s air quality.

The climatic and geographic “handicap” should be an incentive to “do better, and more than others”, Disimine said.

Things are improving — particularly in grey-skied Milan, which charges vehicles to enter the city centre and has just imposed a ban on the worst offenders during the day on weekdays.

But Disimine says the situation still “alarming”, especially as regards the nitrogen oxide level, for which traffic is to blame.

There are some 65 cars per 100 inhabitants in Italy — and 51.8 in Milan — compared to 36 for example in Paris, London and Berlin.

The answers lie in “public transport, car sharing, cycling” and improving bus and train networks beyond the regional capital.

“In the last ten years, the number of citizens using the train has doubled in Lombardy,” says Cattaneo, who favours a carrot rather than stick approach, preferring to offer financial incentives than enforce bans.

The region has set itself the goal of coming in at, or under, the European Union 35-day limit by 2025.

via Italy’s polluted Po Valley gasps for fresh air

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Air pollution: Leeds street worst outside London, says campaign

_105823767_nevillestreetA street in Leeds city centre is the most polluted outside London, an environmental group has claimed.

Parts of Neville Street, near the train station, had a nitrogen dioxide (NO2) level of 99 ug/m3, Friends of the Earth said.

The group said council figures showed the level was more than twice the suggested limit of 40ug/m3.

Leeds City Council said it monitored air quality at the city’s worst polluted sites.

Campaigners assessed local authority air quality reports submitted to the government, including those contained in Leeds council’s latest air quality report.

Councillor James Lewis said the council was “committed to improving air quality” and recognised “air pollution exceeds legal limits in some parts of Leeds”.

However, the council measured air quality at busy junctions and tunnels even though it was not required to by official guidelines, he said.

Mr Lewis added: “Individuals can do their bit by using the car less often, sharing their journeys more often, and by turning off their engines when idling.”

The owners of heavy polluting lorries, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles are to be charged for entering parts of Leeds from January 2020.

Friends of the Earth welcomed the initiative but wants cars to be included and the charging zone to be extended.

Simon Bowens, from the organisation, said: “Air pollution is often an issue thought of as affecting only the biggest cities.

“The reality is that unacceptably toxic air can be found across much of the UK, even in smaller towns.

“It is harming the health of people across the country and is especially bad for young children whose lungs are still developing.”

via Air pollution: Leeds street worst outside London, says campaign – BBC News

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Air pollution knocks almost one year off the average European’s life: WHO

880x495_cmsv2_28b36216-e48b-5a1f-894d-e39e783b43ac-3678196Nine out of ten people worldwide breathe polluted air daily, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

That means 91% of the world’s population are living in places where air quality exceeds guideline limits.

Air pollution is thought to directly cause the deaths of around 7 million people per year, mostly in Asia and Africa.

25% of heart disease, 24% of strokes, and 43% of lung disease and lung cancer deaths could be “attributed to air pollution”, according to WHO.

Cities in India and China accounted for many of the worst culprits, but Europeans are also affected by the phenomenon.

According to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), air pollution currently causes almost 500,000 premature deaths across Europe every year.

Exposure to particulate matter (PM) has decreased the life expectancy of every person on the continent by an average of almost 1 year, mostly due to increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and lung cancer, according to WHO.

The organisation also said that if air pollution in European cities was reduced below the air quality guideline levels, people would live longer — in some cases by almost 2 years.

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Geography also played a factor — air pollution in Bucharest, Romania added 22 months to a residents life, while in London, UK, this figure was 2.5 months.

Around 40 million people in the 115 largest cities in the European Union (EU) have been exposed to air exceeding WHO air quality guideline values for at least one pollutant.

Children were said to some of the most at risk — living near roads with heavy traffic doubled respiratory problems.

Additionally, exposure to air pollution during pregnancy was associated with low birth weight and premature birth.

Jonathan Grigg, professor of paediatric respiratory and environmental medicine at the Queen Mary University of London, told Euronews that air pollution was likely to worsen the condition of already vulnerable individuals.

“Air pollution is likely to speed up the reduced lung-function in people who already have respiratory issues, especially in children,” said Grigg. “We estimate in the UK, air pollution leads to 20,000-40,000 premature deaths a year.”

The European Lung Foundation (ELF) said air pollution can be as dangerous as smoking and living along a busy road carries about the same risk as passively smoking 10 cigarettes per day.

For those thinking that staying inside will mitigate the risk of air pollution, think again.

While 4.2 million deaths per year worldwide were a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution, nearly 3.8 million deaths per year were caused by household exposure to smoke from dirty cookers and fuel. WHO said over 3 billion people worldwide breath polluted air in their homes on a daily basis.

Nonetheless, the European Lung Foundation encouraged Europeans to pursue outdoor activities and said the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks of air pollution. The EFL also said people can reduce their air pollution exposure by choosing back roads, exercising in green spaces, and avoiding exercise during rush hour.

Which parts of Europe are the most polluted?

The WHO statistics showed that Eastern Europe — particularly Balkan countries — is considered the continent’s most polluted region.

The area’s industries, such as brown coal mining, contribute to its struggle with air pollution. Inefficient, older, pollutant vehicles on the roads intensify the environmental problem for Eastern Europe.

The Republic of North Macedonia was considered one of the most polluted European nations with the PM10 levels in some cities exceeding the recommended concentration.

The most polluted urban area in all of Europe was the city of Tetovo in the Balkan country.

Skopje, the capital city, has been listed by the World Health Organization as the second most polluted city in Europe with the highest concentration of harmful fine particulate matter (2.5) in the air.

PM2.5 is considered an invisible killer because it is so tiny that it can pass through body armour.

Bosnia and Herzegovina also houses cities that topped Europe’s most polluted, most notably the city of Tuzla.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania all had multiple cities ranked in Europe’s top 30 most polluted urban areas.

In Poland, air pollution caused the premature death of around 50,000 people every year.

According to WHO, the country was home to nearly half of the top 30 most polluted cities in Europe, starting with the cities of Zywiec and Pszczyna. One of the leading causes of Poland’s battle with air pollution is the countries longstanding ties to coal.

The life expectancy in Eastern Europe is much lower than its western neighbours.

According to Statista, life expectancy among males in Eastern Europe is 69-years-old, nearly 10 years less than the Western average age for males of 79.

Females in the eastern block live, on average, to 78, still below the Western European average of 84-years-old.

Professor Grigg told Euronews this difference in life expectancy could be related to Eastern Europe’s higher prevalence of smokers.

Grigg, who is also the head of the European Respiratory Society Assemblies, said that cigarette smoke is the worst chemical that can enter the lungs and could speed up the effects of air pollution by a factor of 10.

Italy is considered statistically the most polluted country in Western Europe, with Naples, Turin, Rome and Milan all in the top 30 most polluted cities.

What is air pollution made of and how can we reduce it?

One of the main proponents of air pollution is particulate matter.

PM is the combination of solid and liquid particles suspended in air — many of which are hazardous.

This mixture includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, smoke, and liquid droplets.

It can either be directly emitted, for instance when fuel is burnt, or indirectly formed, like when gaseous pollutants previously emitted to air turn into particulate matter.

To combat this, WHO encouraged countries to regulate dirty emissions and ban polluting vehicles. For everyday life, WHO said people can fight back to reduce air pollution by not burning waste, recycling, and making cycling part of their daily routine.

via Air pollution knocks almost one year off the average European’s life: WHO | Euronews

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