We are testing the effectiveness of a low-cost emergency kit which, if effective, can protect people’s respiratory health during haze conditions.
Forest fires are an annual problem during Indonesia’s dry season. During this season, fires are commonly lit to clear and prepare land for agricultural development. This practice is especially prevalent in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan. These fires create high levels of air pollution, commonly referred to as “haze”.
A 2016 study published by researchers at Harvard and Columbia University suggested that the particularly severe 2015 haze event may have led to the premature deaths of over 100,000 people. The majority of these deaths are believed to have been in Indonesia. During the same year, Indonesia’s disaster management agency said that more than 43 million Indonesians had been exposed to smoke from the fires, and half a million had suffered acute respiratory infections.
At the dry season’s peak, air pollution will often exceed the maximum level of 1,000 on the international Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) - anything above 300 is considered hazardous. The toxic smoke causes widespread respiratory, eye, and skin ailments. These health conditions are especially hazardous for the very young and elderly, as the haze includes dangerous levels of carbon dioxide, cyanide, and ammonium. The long-term health impacts from prolonged exposure to haze are not yet known, but experts have predicted they will be significant.
To help minimize the health impact resulting from exposure to haze, we will test haze emergency kits comprising of:
1. An air purifier sourced from Smart Air Filters
2. Safe room modification materials to block air gaps within a house, including:
- Foam to seal around windows
- Tape to cover air gaps in walls and ceilings; and
- Rubber inserts for windows and doors
The team will check and monitor the following indicators from each item in the kit:
1. Air purifier:
- The effectiveness of the air purifier in reaching an acceptable air quality level (aiming for moderate PM 2.5 as set by the World Air Quality Index team - AQICN).
- The time needed for the air purifier to reduce pollution levels to an acceptable PM 2.5 Air Quality Index level; and
- The longevity of the HEPA filter during extreme haze conditions over the 3 month haze exposure period.
2. Safe room: The effectiveness of the safe room modification materials in aiding the air purifier to reach acceptable air pollution standards during extreme haze conditions.
3. 3M Mask, N95
- The effectiveness of the mask during haze conditions, especially for children; and
- The feasibility of a fit-test procedure in the field prior to mask usage.
THE EXPECTED IMPACT
If our low-cost emergency kit - consisting of an air purifier, safe room toolkit and mask - is effective, we hope this solution will help protect people’s respiratory health during haze conditions.
THE PROJECT RESULT
In collaboration with UNICEF Indonesia, this project tested the effectiveness of a low-cost, haze emergency kit consisting of a Fan-Filter Unit (FFU), materials to seal a room in order to prevent air leakage and masks to protect people’s respiratory health during extreme haze conditions, such as those experienced during the 2015 haze crisis. Two options of FFU were tested and compared; the SmartAir FFU originating from China, and a locally assembled FFU with individually sourced Indonesian components. The preliminary test of FFU performance was conducted at Kopernik’s office in Bali and the field tests for the sealing measures were conducted in two different types of dwellings in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan.
Our hypotheses were:
- First, that the FFU would effectively reduce particulate matter (PM2.5) to safe levels, and,
- Second, that the sealing measures would reduce the air leakage rate in both types of dwellings.
We also hypothesized that the locally assembled FFU would be cheaper but work just as effectively as the SmartAir FFU.
Our experiment concluded that:
- Both FFU were able to reduce the PM2.5 level from hazardous to safe levels within one hour and 25 minutes. This is five times faster than when no measures were taken;
- The sealing measures were able to reduce the air leakage rate for both types of dwelling by three times. However there was a negative side effect of the safe room measures for the wooden house as the room became overheated. In addition the cost to seal a room in a wooden house was relatively high; and
- The locally assembled FFU worked just as effectively as the SmartAir FFU, however it was just as expensive as the cost of the FFU procured from China, taking into account shipping costs and import duty.
THE BROADER IMPACT
Download the project report above to read more.
Costs associated with project coordination and the technology
Costs associated with data collection and analysis
Cost of transferring payments internationally, processing online donations (5%) and a contribution to Kopernik's operational costs (15%)
Kopernik Solutions provided a sub-grant to a trusted partner organisation who is implementing this project.