What is Air Quality Index? 

Air Quality Index
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The AQI stands for Air Quality Index. 

AQI tells us about the air quality of a particular area/region on daily basis. So, it keeps you updated about the pollution around you, and its effect on your body. 

AQI ranges between 0-500.

As the number increases its impact on human life increases. (Not only humans AQI has significance on all the living creatures around us, so we must take care of them also.)

So, lower the AQI better the air to breathe. 

The CPCB (Central pollution control board) monitors the air quality index in India under National Air Quality Monitoring Program.

As per the CPCB, its network for monitoring the air quality consists of 804 operating stations covering 344 cities/towns in 28 states and 6 Union Territories of the country.

What is the use of AQI? 

  • The AQI is very important for those suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to air pollution and to control industries from violating environmental rules. 
  • It can be used for comparing air quality conditions at different locations.
  • It helps us to understand the change in the quality of air. (Improvement and deterioration)

What are the parameters measured in AQI? AQI

  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
  • Oxides of Nitrogen (NO2)
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Ozon (O3)
  • Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM / PM10) 
  • Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)

What is the impact of these parameters on human health?

  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2): Exposure to Sulphur Dioxide can lead to throat and eye irritation and aggravate asthma as well as chronic bronchitis.
  • Oxides of Nitrogen (NO2): Breathing in high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide increases the risk of respiratory problems. Coughing and difficulty breathing are common and more serious health issues such as respiratory infections can occur with longer exposure.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO): Carbon Monoxide is a colourless and odorless gas and when inhaled at high levels can cause headache, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Repeated long-term exposure can lead to heart disease.
  • Ozon (O3): Ground-level Ozone can aggravate existing respiratory diseases and also lead to throat irritation, headaches, and chest pain.
  • Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM / PM10): It is an inhalable pollutant particle with a diameter of fewer than 10 micrometers. Particles that are larger than 2.5 micrometers can be deposited in airways, resulting in health issues. Exposure can result in eye and throat irritation, coughing or difficulty breathing, and aggravated asthma. More frequent and excessive exposure can result in more serious health effects. 
  • Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5): Fine Particulate Matter is inhalable pollutant particles with a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers that can enter the lungs and bloodstream, resulting in serious health issues. The most severe impacts are on the lungs and heart. Exposure can result in coughing or difficulty breathing, aggravated asthma, and the development of chronic respiratory disease.

AQI range and its Impact:

AQI Range Air Quality Health Impacts
0-50 Good Minimal Impact
51-100 Satisfactory May Cause minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people. 
101-200 Moderate May cause breathing discomfort to people with lung diseases such as asthma, and discomfort to people with heart disease, children, and older adults. 
201-300 Poor May cause breathing discomfort to people on prolonged exposure and discomfort to people with heart disease. 
301-400 Severe May cause respiratory illness in people on prolonged exposure. The effect may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases. 
401-500 Hazardous May cause respiratory impact even on healthy people and serious health impacts on people with lung/heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.

How to respond to bad AQI?

  • Avoid roaming around polluted areas.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors. 
  • Restrict children and teenagers from direct exposure. 
  • People with lung diseases should avoid exposure to such an environment. 
  • Practice wearing the mask. 


Why has it become important for us to pay attention to it?

After this pandemic, we all have understood how health is of prime importance in our life. Even money can’t save us if we are not health cautious. 

Top 10 most polluted areas of India:


As per the recent report of The Hindustan Times these are the top 10 cities of India with their AQI. 

  1. Siwan (Bihar)- (AQI 398)
  2. Katihar (Bihar)- (AQI 369)
  3. Darbhanga (Bihar)- (AQI 360)
  4. Sonipat (Haryana)- (AQI 347)
  5. Samastipur (Bihar)- (AQI 337)
  6. Chhapra (Bihar)- (AQI 335)
  7. Bettiah (Bihar)- (AQI 326)
  8. Faridabad (Haryana)- (AQI 316)
  9. Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh)- (AQI 315)
  10. Bhagalpur (Bihar)- (AQI 308)

How to know AQI for your city? 

It is very simple to know AQI on your mobile phone using CPCB’s website. Click here for website. 

Or you can simply google your area name before AQI and search it. E.g., Vadodara AQI, and you will get the results for Vadodara city. 

Note: This article is written as the best knowledge of the author, Actual data may differ.

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