Message for U.S. Citizens: Impacts of Air Pollution in Indonesia

Haze in Sumatra and Kalimantan

This message is being issued to alert U.S. citizens residing in, or traveling to Indonesia that increased levels of particulate air pollution, primarily due to fires in parts of Indonesia, have caused health impacts and travel disruptions in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan. The air pollution standard index in these areas has reached very unhealthy to hazardous levels on various days, based on U.S. EPA standards. Numerous respiratory tract infection cases have been reported in the areas affected.

If you are planning travel to these regions, please be advised you could experience travel delays. Airports can be affected as haze can reduce visibility.

Where to find current information on air pollution levels

Air quality is considered to be good at air quality levels of up to 50. Current information on the Air Quality Index can be found at various sites including:

Effects of Air Pollution Levels on Public Health

The U.S. EPA notes the following:

  • Moderate air quality levels (AQI 50-100) pose little to no health concerns for the general population.
  • Prolonged exposure to unhealthy air pollution levels, Air Quality Index (AQI 100-150) for sensitive groups may cause people with chronic lung or heart diseases, as well as infants, and the elderly , and anyone already suffering from an acute illness such as the flu, to become sick or may worsen existing symptoms.
  • Prolonged exposure to unhealthy levels (AQI 151-200) may cause respiratory problems in normally healthy individuals.
  • Prolonged exposure to very unhealthy (AQI 201-300), or less-prolonged exposure to hazardous air quality levels (AQI >301) may lead to health problems in a wider range of individuals of all ages.

Mitigation of the Negative Effects of Air Pollution

The best protection against exposure to outdoor pollutants is to remain indoors as much as possible, with doors and windows closed and air conditioning on, and to refrain from strenuous activity when outdoors. N95 respirators may provide additional protection. Paper masks or surgical masks provide no protection against particulate air pollution. Persons with difficulty breathing because of air pollution, or those who must spend a significant amount of time outdoors, may choose to wear an N95 respirator for protection. If you have a history of difficulty breathing first consult with a medical professional prior to wearing a respirator. A respirator will provide some protection against the particles in polluted air, but it will not provide complete protection.

Respirators and Children

N95 respirators are classified as disposable medical or occupational equipment as such have never been studied on, or are recommended for use in infant or children.  During days with high pollution levels, children should be kept indoors as much as possible to minimize exposure. U.S. citizens currently living in or traveling to Sumatra and Kalimantan may wish to consult their doctor about the health effects of significant air pollution.

To obtain Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel notices, call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) from within the United States, or 1-404-639-3534 from overseas, or visit the CDC website at

For further information: