Air Quality Index

Since I have talked so much about air pollution in my previous posts, its my duty to introduce a term to you all that it “Air Quality Index” or AQI. Now, some of you might be aware of it or might have heard about it somewhere. Today I am going to elaborate this term.

Image result for air pollution

What is Air Quality?

Air quality refers to the quality of air that we breathe on daily basis. Air quality is important because it is the air, we breathe in. It is important to measure the local air quality on hourly basis.  

What do you think is the air quality at your location?

What is Air Quality Index?

Air Quality Index is an index that reports the daily air quality. It is abbreviated as AQI. AQI tells us about the quality of air where we live. It tells us whether the air is healthy or unhealthy. It also tells us about the health effects associated with the quality of air.

The U.S. Environmental Pollution Agency (EPA) measures AQI to know about the air quality and to take steps if the quality is not up to the mark.

AQI is based on five of the major air pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Each of these air pollutants are measured at each monitoring site.

In different countries, AQI is known by different names so don’t get confused. In Canada AQI is known as Air Quality Health Index. In Singapore, it is known as Air Pollution Index. In Malaysia, AQI is called as Pollutant Standards Index.

How is AQI Calculated?

AQI is calculated in the range of 0 to 500. Lower the index, better is the air quality and vice versa. AQI values are represented as good, moderate, unhealthy, very unhealthy and hazardous depending upon the values obtained. For each level, a color code is provided to represent the risk levels of the air quality.

Let me make this clear, suppose the place where you live has the AQI value of 59, it means that the air quality of that place is moderate and yellow color is used to symbolize that place. As the AQI value goes on increasing, the quality of air decreases. 500 is the highest value for AQI and beyond that AQI values are not measured.

You can understand this more clearly by the figure given below.

If you want, you can also get the AQI levels for the five major air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, ozone and sulfur dioxide. In the picture shown below, the AQI values of particulate matter (also referred as particulate pollution) is given with the color code and health effects.

In India, the National Air Quality Index was launched in 2014. For AQI. Continuous monitoring systems have been installed in New Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad and Pune.

In India, AQI are proposed on eight pollutants such as particulate pollution (PM 10 and PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, ammonia and lead and categorized as good (0-50), satisfactory (51-100), moderately polluted (101-200), poor (201-300), very poor (301-400) and severe (401-500).  is a website where you can see the AQI levels of different countries. It provides the Real Time AQI of all the places on the earth. When you go through the website, the homepage appears like this.

When you scroll through the page, you will get the exact Air Quality Index value of a place. For example, look at the image shown below:

In this way you can see the AQI levels of any part of the world. If you want to calculate the AQI levels of your city or state or country, just type in the name in the space provided in this website and you can see the data. Isn’t this website interesting?

AQI is a vast and interesting topic. I tried to simplify this topic and put the best out of it. I am hoping this article will be helpful to you in knowing about a new topic today. Click on your country, state and city and know about the air quality at the place you are living. This will give you an idea about the quality of air you are breathing.

About Dr Namrata, Ph.D.

Author is a PhD in Botany (Environmental Science) with keen interest in Biotechnology and Research work. Currently, she is a full time blogger, posting her views and thoughts related to Science and Life.

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