Jakarta, IO – Behind the many conveniences brought to us by technology, rapid industrial and transportation over the decades bring an accumulation of threats to human health and the very existence of nature, because of the land, water, and air pollution they generate. Air pollution is one of the biggest health and environmental issues in the world: it contributes to 11.65% of all deaths worldwide and is a major health risk. It is a major cause of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory tract infection, tuberculosis (“TB”), asthma, chronic lung obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”), lung cancer and fibrosis of the lungs.
“Thanks to exposure to air pollution, the average individual in Indonesia loses 1.2 years of their life expectancy, because the air quality in our country fails to satisfy the stipulated PM 2.5 concentration level. Even worse, citizens in large cities like Jakarta risk losing 2.3 years of their life expectancy as they are constantly exposed to the same high level of air pollution,” declares Prof. Dr. dr. Agus Dwi Susanto, Sp.P(K), President Director of Persahabatan Hospital Jakarta and lung consultancy specialist, in his inauguration as Permanent Professor of Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine at the University of Indonesia Faculty of Medicine, last Saturday (11/2/2023).
As the system that directly interacts with outdoor air, our respiratory organs are highly sensitive to atmospheric pollution. These pollutants can irritate the respiratory tract, triggering inflammations and oxidation stress, and these problems may become acute or chronic. In order to anticipate, we need to ensure that all relevant stakeholders –citizens, industries, the Government, and health workers– synergize and contribute to air quality control.
“The people can start by stopping the use of personal vehicles and take public transportation instead, or replace their fossil-fuel vehicles with more environmentally-friendly ones. They may also opt to avoid engaging in outdoor activities when air pollution reaches high levels, by making use of the real-time air quality monitoring feature from apps such as the AirVisual from IQAir, which they can download to their smartphones,” Prof. Agus said.
Echoing his advice in his 2022 thesis, “Clinical characteristics and quality of life of persistent symptoms of Covid-19 syndrome in Indonesia”, he strongly suggests consistent use of standardized filter masks when we are doing outdoor activities in polluted ambient air. Industrialists may reduce pollution levels by performing environmental impact studies on their industrial activities, then perform necessary mitigations. Educational institutions and the Government also need to encourage research and innovations in renewable, lower pollution energy, including the development and construction of electricity generators fueled by “green” energy sources. (est)