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National Air Quality Index (AQI) Launched
Oct 21, 2014

The Ministry for Environment, Forests & Climate Change launched The National Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI will be One Number-One Colour-One Description for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity. The index is constituted as a part of the Government’s mission to introduce the culture of cleanliness. Institutional and infrastructural measures were being undertaken in order to ensure that the mandate of cleanliness was fulfilled across the country. As a part of the process clean air would be a part of Peoples’ campaign to take up the issue in a mission mode.

Under the new measurement process an effort has been made to include a comprehensive set of parameters. While the earlier measuring index was limited to three indicators, the current measurement index had been made quite comprehensive by the addition of five additional parameters.

Air pollution has been a matter of environmental and health concerns, particularly in urban areas. Central Pollution Control Board along with State Pollution Control Boards has been operating National Air Monitoring Program (NAMP) covering 240 cities of the country. In addition, continuous monitoring systems that provide data on near real-time basis are also installed in a few cities.

Traditionally, air quality status has been reported through voluminous data. Thus, it was important that information on air quality is put up in public domain in simple linguistic terms that is easily understood by a common person. Air Quality Index (AQI) is one such tool for effective dissemination of air quality information to people.

There are six AQI categories— Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.  The proposed AQI will consider eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.

Based on the measured ambient concentrations, corresponding standards and likely health impact, a sub-index is calculated for each of these pollutants. The worst sub-index reflects overall AQI. Associated likely health impacts for different AQI categories and pollutants have been also been suggested, with primary inputs from the medical expert members of the group.

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