Clean Air Development
About Clean Air Development
Worsening air quality and air pollution issues in developing countries have been attracting national and international attention. The quality of air we breathe affects our daily lives as air with poor quality would harm human and environmental health. Thus, the problem of air pollution in urban cities is a responsibility borne by many, from governmental bodies, and private sectors, down to the community themselves.
The Clean Air Development pillar is a strategic initiative centred on addressing the environmental and ecological impact of air pollution while concurrently enhancing air quality and integrating health considerations into air quality management. This holistic approach aims to create a sustainable framework for mitigating air pollution that not only protects human health but also fosters a cleaner, healthier environment and ecosystem.
Air pollution is a contaminant or mixture of contaminants in the air that can harm humans, plants, animals, and the environment. It comes from various sources that can be divided into natural and anthropogenic sources. Natural sources include volcanoes, forest fires, lightning, wind and dust storms, animals, and soil dust, while anthropogenic sources come from vehicles, industrial emissions, cooking smoke, and the burning of wood, waste, and fossil fuel combustion. Air pollutants are grouped into different categories as well, common pollutants linked to human and environmental health: Particulate Matter (PM) PM2.5 and PM10, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO).
The lack of sufficient data in determining the air quality condition of cities becomes an important background to necessitate reliable air quality data. Hence, Air Quality Standards are used as a standard value for reference in determining Air Quality Index (AQI). The index tells you “how clean or polluted the outdoor air is each day” and “what health effects may be of concern”.
National, regional, and local government agencies are responsible for monitoring air quality. The government monitors air quality levels using Reference monitoring stations/Air Quality Monitoring Stations (AQMS) on an ongoing basis to provide relevant air quality data needed to call an action or recommendation regarding environmental and public health. Besides state-owned AQMS, several private sector or local communities are also doing either commercial or independent air quality monitoring utilizing low-cost sensors (LCS). LCS provides near real-time data and is commonly used to provide more hyperlocal data, but due to LCS technology limitations, air quality monitoring results produced from LCS cannot be used as standard for compliance or indicator for regulation abidence, while still referring to AQMS as standard data. However, a comprehensive LCS network could provide valuable support to raise public awareness and extend the air quality monitoring cover as there is still a great absence of AQMS in some areas.
In DKI Jakarta, for example, there have been several AQMS owned by government institutions, such as DKI Jakarta Environment Agency (DLH), Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG), and the US Embassy. On top of that, private companies have deployed a network of air quality sensors, as done by IQAir and Nafas. While the extension of AQMS coverage is important in order to improve air quality improvement in broader terms, AQMS procurement cost is expensive. The same goes for operating and managing a comprehensive LCS network that compromises tens to hundreds of sensors, making it one of the main obstacles in improving air quality monitoring. Some of the challenges in system optimisation and implementation in other cities are whether sufficient data is available and coordination between the government and other stakeholders. Furthermore, in improving air quality in general, it is important to establish interdisciplinary collaboration because the status of air quality involves various sectors as pollutants, such as transportation, energy, and agriculture, among others.