Air Pollution: What Does AQI Mean?

Air pollution in India is assessed through an AQI monitoring system, categorizing it based on 8 pollutants, prompting public awareness of health and safety.

Is the air around you feeling heavy & dusty? If yes, then it is because of air pollution. A common and constantly rising problem for almost all the states of India. High air pollution can cause multiple health issues like headache, nausea, cough, fatigue, bronchitis & even asthma

How do we know how bad the air is or how much air pollution is there? 

We learn about the severity of air pollution by studying the city’s AQI. AQI is the Air Quality Index that reports daily air quality levels. It tells us how clean or polluted the air of a location is and how it can affect its citizens. In India, the AQI is issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Before 2014, the air quality was categorized considering only 3 pollutants but after 2014, AQI considers a total of 8 pollutants & observes their levels in the air for a 24-hour period to analyze the average air quality levels. This change was made under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan by PM Modi.

The 8 major air pollutants are as follows: 

1.   PM10 – small particle matter of 10 micrometres or less found in dust & smoke.

2.   PM2.5 – inhalable particle matters of 2.5 micrometres or less.

3.   NO2 – Nitrogen dioxide.

4.   SO2 – Sulfer dioxide.

5.   CO – Carbon Monoxide.

6.   NH3 – Ammonia.

7.   O3 – Ground-level Ozone.

8.   Pb – Lead.

Based on the ratios of these 8 pollutants the AQI is categorized into 6 categories namely good, satisfactory, moderate, poor, very poor, and severe. Each AQI category has a fixed value range of air pollutants, an allotted color. It also gives the Associated Health impact of the various levels of AQI for a better understanding of people. The AQI with minimum pollutants is categorized as ‘good’ and color coded as light green. The AQI with highest pollutants is categorized as ‘severe’ and color coded as dark red / maroon. The government of India has installed digital AQI displays at traffic signals, railway stations, bus stops & airports in all high-risk air pollution cities. One can also check the AQI of different locations in different cities & get air-related updates on AQI India’s official app & website. The Link is shared in the description box. So, next time you’re planning an inter-city trip or just stepping out of your home, make sure to check the AQI as it can help you act safely against the growing problem of air pollution in India.