Over the past few days, as the problem of air pollution in Delhi-NCR and surrounding areas has made its annual November-December appearance in policy debates and public discussion, the Air Quality Index (AQI) has been mentioned repeatedly.
About Air Quality Index (AQI)
- AQI is a number, which is a measure of air quality.
- The higher the AQI, the worse the air.
- After staying above 450 for a couple of days, the AQI in Delhi had come down to around 320.
- The colour-coded AQI index was launched in India in 2014, and it helps the public and the government understand the condition of the air and what subsequent measures are to be taken to combat the situation, based on its severity.
- There are six categories of AQI, namely ‘Good’ (0-50), ‘Satisfactory’ (50-100), ‘Moderately polluted’ (100-200), ‘Poor’ (200-300), ‘Very Poor’ (300-400), and ‘Severe’ (400-500).
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants, for which national air quality standards have been established to safeguard public health.
1. Ground-level ozone2. Particle pollution/particulate matter (PM2.5/pm 10)3. Carbon Monoxide4. Sulfur dioxide5. Nitrogen dioxide
- Comparing air quality conditions at different locations/cities.
- It also helps in identifying faulty standards and inadequate monitoring programmes.
- AQI helps in analysing the change in air quality (improvement or degradation).
- AQI informs the public about environmental conditions. It is especially useful for people suffering from illnesses aggravated or caused by air pollution.
- People with lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema
- Children, including teenagers
- Active people of all ages who exercise or work extensively outdoors
- Some healthy people are more sensitive to ozone
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