TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The air quality in Pekanbaru is getting worse due to smoky haze from forest fire. Based on observation by Tempo on Sunday, March 9, 2013, air pollution index board at Jalan Sudirman showed 310 Psi or in a danger category.
"People no longer breathe smoke, but dust," said Rahmi Carolina, a resident in Pekanbaru. The haze seemed heavier. The haze also carried dust and ashes from the fire. "My eyes hurt when I'm driving," said Rahmi.
Riau Health Agency's Public and Environment Health Division Head, Diwani, said that the haze from the forest fire contained more than allowed Particulate Matter (PM-10), which is dangerous for lungs.
Particulate Matter is a solid or liquid particle found in the air. Big-sized and dark-colored particles can be seen as soot or smoke. PM-10 is a dangerous small particle, which can reach deeper parts of respiratory system.
Diwani stated that the PM-10 at 310 Psi for air quality in Pekanbaru is more than dangerous, while the allowed PM-10 content in the air is 0 to 50 Psi. "More than 100 Psi is unhealthy. 200 Psi is very dangerous," Diwani said.
Riau Health Agency revealed that 33,300 residents in a number of regencies in Riau have suffered acute respiratory tract infection. "The data was taken from public health centers and hospitals for the last two weeks," Diwani said.
According to Diwani, the effect of infection caused by smoke with PM-10 may include asthma, cough, or even lung cancer. But in case of Riau, Diwani said, the effects on children are mostly skin and eyes irritation. "Residents, particularly children, are advised to stay at home," Diwani added.