The nuclear technique, which uses particle-induced x-ray emission and X-ray fluorescence technology (See The Science Box), was introduced by researchers at the country's National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN), and has been used since the late 1990s to measure particulate matter in the city's air on a regular basis. The results, for particulate matter with diameter below 10 m (PM10) and below 2.5 m (PM2.5), have contributed to a change in city bylaws regulating the burning of agricultural and household waste, as well as the introduction of education programmes to citizens about the harmful effects of burning their waste, said Irene Irmamuti, Head of the Environmental Rehabilitation Section at the city.
"The data provided by BATAN is important and will lead to science-based policy making," Irmamuti said. "It has also made a significant contribution to the city getting the award."
Air pollution is a major problem across urban areas of Indonesia, with a surge in industrial activity and traffic increasing the amount of toxic substances in the air. According to ASEAN, Bandung has made significant efforts to improve the quality of its air, such as forming a special team to focus on air pollution control, running public seminars and workshops on air quality management and putting vehicles in the city through strict emissions tests.
Until recently, the city government lacked reliable data on the quality of its air with the exception of particulate matter, provided by BATAN. As such, it is this data that forms the basis of many of its new policies, said Driejana Driejana, Associate Professor in Air and Waste Management at the Bandung Institute of Technology. Driejana's group is now supplying data to the city on other air pollutants such as nitrous oxides.
A tale of 17 cities
Many of the 17 cities where BATAN, in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency, is taking weekly measurements of air pollution, including carbon dust and heavy metals, have introduced changes to their policies and have begun to enforce their regulations more strictly, said Muhayatun Santoso, who leads the research at BATAN.