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Apologies that the initial version of this post contained formatting problems that only became apparent after posting.

Few readers would be surprised to know that air quality remains an ongoing concern across Southeast Asia.

Among the biggest concerns in tackling the issue is the lack of reliable data. The World Health Organisation does its best, but a quick review of its latest statistics here offers little guidance on the air quality affecting vast swathes of the region and its population centres.

I’ve removed all the cities outside Southeast Asia (other than a few I’ve retained for comparison), and reproduced their pollution levels in the table below. See the following text for some brief comments and notes.

Country City/Town Annual mean, ug/m3 Year
Australia Canberra 7 2014
Australia Sydney 8 2014
China Beijing 85 2014
China Shanghai 52 2014
Germany Berlin 16 2013
India Mumbai 63 2013
Indonesia Bandung 33 2014
Japan Tokyo 15 2012
Malaysia Bayan Lepas 18 2014
Malaysia Kuantan 14 2014
Malaysia Kuching 14 2014
Malaysia Petaling Jaya 25 2014
Malaysia Senai 16 2014
Malaysia Tanah Rata 10 2014
Myanmar Kathar 42 2013
Myanmar Kyauk Pa Taung 50 2013
Myanmar Kyaukphyu 76 2009
Myanmar Mawlamyaing 69 2012
Myanmar Meikhtilar 33 2013
Myanmar Namkham 71 2012
Myanmar Namthu 17 2012
Myanmar Nyaung Oo 51 2013
Myanmar Pyay-Aunglan 25 2013
Myanmar Pyin Oo Lwin 78 2012
Myanmar Sintgaing 44 2009
Myanmar Taungoo 76 2013
Myanmar Thaungtha 44 2009
Myanmar Yenanchaung 67 2009
New Zealand Auckland 6 2012
Oman Muscat 35 2009
Philippines Baguio City 44 2013
Philippines Cebu 28 2013
Philippines Daguapan City 27 2013
Philippines Davao City 11 2013
Philippines Manila 17 2014
Philippines San Carlos City 32 2013
Philippines Urdaneta 24 2013
Philippines Zamboanga City 26 2013
Singapore Singapore 18 2014
Sweden Stockholm 6 2013
Thailand Bangkok 24 2014
Thailand Chiang Mai 25 2014
Thailand Chiang Rai 27 2014
Thailand Chon buri 18 2014
Thailand Khon Kaen 28 2014
Thailand Lampang 29 2014
Thailand Lamphun 24 2014
Thailand Mae Hong Son 23 2014
Thailand Nakhon Ratchasima 28 2014
Thailand Nakhon Sawan 32 2014
Thailand Nan 25 2014
Thailand Narathiwat 16 2014
Thailand Nonthaburi 25 2014
Thailand Pathum Thani 27 2014
Thailand Phayao 23 2014
Thailand Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 31 2014
Thailand Phrae 31 2014
Thailand Phuket 13 2014
Thailand Rayong 23 2014
Thailand Sa Kaeo 26 2014
Thailand Samut Prakan 28 2014
Thailand Samut Sakhon 30 2014
Thailand Saraburi 31 2014
Thailand Songkhla 24 2014
Thailand Surat Thani 22 2014
Thailand Yala 13 2014
Turkey Istanbul 33 2012
United Kingdom London 15 2013
United States of America Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 11 2014
United States of America New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 9 2014

Some points…

1/ Note that the pollution levels refers to ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5s). Using the baseline of larger and less dangerous PM10s would offer a different set of rankings and measures.

2/ Singapore would probably do better on a national level if it had a bigger territory. Could the air quality in Singapore really be on a par with Manila?

3/ Indonesia’s effective absence from the statistical set is, or should be, a national embarrassment. If Myanmar can admt to their failings then it really shouldn’t be difficult for Indonesia. I will ask; is pollution in Indonesia that bad that Indonesia doesn’t want the world to know, or doesn’t want its own people to know?

ASEAN clearly has a lot of work to do on getting air pollution measurements among its member states, let alone doing something about what is being measured.

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