Air pollution has been found to have impacts on women’s reproductive system. More study needed to better inform public health policy.

Air pollution does not only burden a country’s economy but also harms public health. A Vital Strategies report showed that in 2010, there were 5.5 million cases of ailments related to air pollution in Jakarta leading to an estimated Rp38.5 trillion in health treatment costs.

Demanding their rights to clean air, the citizens of Jakarta filed a citizens’ lawsuit against the government in 2019, addressing the President of the Republic of Indonesia, the Minister of the Environment and Forestry, the Minister of Health, The Minister of Home Affairs, as well as the governors of Jakarta, West Java and Banten, demanding their right to breathe clean air.

Air pollution is giving rise to various health problems such as asthma, lung cancer, stroke, heart attack and various respiratory ailments, both acute and chronic. It doesn’t stop there. A research in China published in the Enviromental International Journal in 2021 revealed an increase in infertility in areas with an average PM 2.5 concentration of 56.8 micrograms per cubic meter.

PM 2.5 are micro particles that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers – three percent of the thickness of human hair – thus making it easy to be inhaled and end up in the lungs of human beings.

The Vital Strategies report also said that PM 2.5 is also behind abnormal births and poor child health that have the potential of harming the welfare and productivity of people, all their life.

In Central Jakarta, the air pollution index monitored in Kemayoran, showed the average PM 2.5 concentration was at 49.07 micrograms per cubic meter. The highest level was recorded at 148 micrograms per cubic meter last June 15.

This Kompas TV report attempts to analyze the impacts of air pollution on women through the experience of Ruth Dio, a 26-year-old private television reporter who suffered a miscarriage in 2022. The gynecologist who treated her diagnosed that the miscarriage was suspected to have been caused by the fact that Dio spend most of her time outdoor due to her profession.

Kompas TV gathered a studies and spoke to experts to verify the diagnosis by Dio’s gynecologist. Cepi Teguh Pramayadi, a gynecologist at Primaya Evasari Hospital in Central Jakarta explained that air pollution possibly had an impact on women’s reproduction system.

However, Cepi added that that there is still a very limited number of research on the impacts of air pollution on women’s reproduction system. The high costs of research and publication of results that researchers had to undertake are believed to be behind the limited number of research on this specific impact of air pollution.

From the policy side, the Director General for Air Pollution Control at the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, Luckmi Purwandari claimed that her office’s efforts to control air pollution from both mobile and immobile sources have been able to reduce air pollution in Jakarta.

But climate change, which has led to uncertainty in weather patterns where dry seasons become longer or rainy seasons shorter, has made way to particles remained suspended in the air and as a result maintaining a rise in pollutant concentrations.

Greenpeace Indonesia climate and energy campaigner Bondan Andriyanu also underlines the on-going health problems due to air pollution in Jakarta. Andrinayu said Dio’s miscarriage could serve as cause for a new lawsuit and Greenpeace will monitor and safeguard the legal process.

Air pollution clearly has a significant impact on women and other vulnerable groups. But experts point out that in order for the government to device human-centered policies, more studies are needed to look into the specific impacts of air pollution.

This story was produced with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network through the Clean Air Catalyst (Catalyst), a flagship program launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by a global partnership of organizations including World Resources Institute and Environmental Defense Fund and Internews. This story was first broadcast in Kompas TV (Bahasa Indonesia) on 4 December 2022.

About the writer
Glenys Octania

Glenys Octania

Glenys Octania is a broadcast journalist based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She has produced several in-depth reports on environment, energy, and climate issues and is continuing to deepen her knowledge and...

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