The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a valuable tool in the hands of planners and the public alike, helping cities protect themselves from the ill effects of air pollution.

Rising air pollution is a grim reality of our times, brought on by various manmade activities. The civic and Government machineries use scientific tools to measure and report air pollution levels daily. Knowing the AQI for a region helps both planners and the public take important decisions about dealing with air pollution.

What is AQI?

The AQI (Air Quality Index) is a standard index that reports daily air quality for a certain region. The AQI shows how clean or dirty the air you breathe is, as also the health issues that may come up because of air pollution. More than merely tapping the air pollution trends, the Air Quality Index focusses on the health effects associated with pollution, and what happens to the human body just hours after breathing in pollution.

The AQI is divided into five standard categories that are applied worldwide. These categories are associated with levels of air pollution and are colour-coded accordingly. Check the chart below to know the Air Quality Index to know the categories to classify the major air pollutants:

Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health Concern Colors
When the AQI is in this range: ..air quality conditions are: …as symbolized by this color:
0 to 50 Good Green
51 to 100 Moderate Yellow
101 to 150 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Orange
151 to 200 Unhealthy Red
201 to 300 Very Unhealthy Purple
301 to 500 Hazardous Maroon

(Source: Environment Protection Agency, USA)

Using the AQI for your city

The five air pollutants classified under the Air Quality Index standards are: ground level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. It is estimated that ground level ozone and particulate matter pose the biggest health threats to the public.

Checking the Air Quality Index for your city is not possible at citizen level, and civic and State Government administrations can carry out this task using air quality monitors at various spots in the city. Meanwhile, citizens can work with data from predictive pollution apps on their phones, thereby knowing the air quality in various locations of the city and steering clear when pollution reaches dangerous levels.

Measures to keep yourself safe using the AQI for your city

Knowing the daily Air Quality Index for your city can help you take preventive measures against the ill effects of pollution.

You can find the AQI by logging on to the website of the local air quality monitoring station. The daily values are posted there, so you can track whether pollution levels are rising or receding, and where they are at their peak.

Meanwhile, you can invest in a good air pollution mask for yourself and your loved ones. Do wear the mask every time you step outdoors, especially in areas of high air pollution.

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