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20
Feb
2013
Xi'ans Air Quality Index (AQI) E-mail
Magazine - Environment
Written by ND
An air quality index (AQI) is a number used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air is currently or how polluted it is forecast to become. As the AQI increases, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience increasingly severe adverse health effects. Different countries have their own air quality indices which are not all consistent. Different countries also use different names for their indices such as Air Quality Health Index, Air Pollution Index and Pollutant Standards Index. Air quality is defined as a measure of the condition of air relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species or to any human need or purpose.

To compute the AQI requires an air pollutant concentration from a monitor or model. The function used to convert from air pollutant concentration to AQI varies by pollutant, and is different in different countries. Air quality index values are divided into ranges, and each range is assigned a descriptor and a color code. Standardized public health advisories are associated with each AQI range.

The AQI can go up (meaning worse air quality) due to a lack of dilution of air pollutants. Stagnant air, often caused by an anticyclone, temperature inversion, or low wind speeds lets air pollution remain in a local area, leading to high concentrations of pollutants and hazy conditions. An agency might encourage members of the public to take public transportation or work from home when AQI levels are high. Click here to jump directly to Xi'ans current AQI



Most air contaminants do not have an associated AQI. Many countries monitor ground-level ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide and calculate air quality indices for these pollutants.

China's Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) is responsible for measuring the level of air pollution in China. As of 28 August 2008, MEP monitors daily pollution level in 86 of its major cities. The API level is based on the level of 5 atmospheric pollutants, namely sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), suspended particulates smaller than 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10), carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone (O3) measured at the monitoring stations throughout each city.

AQI Mechanics

An individual score(IAQI) is assigned to the level of each pollutant and the final AQI is the highest of those 6 scores. The pollutants can be measured quite differently. PM2.5、PM10 concentration are measured as average per 24h. SO2, NO2, O3, CO are measured as average per hour. The final API value is calculated per hour according to a formula published by the MEP.

The scale for each pollutant is non-linear, as is the final AQI score. Thus an AQI of 100 does not mean twice the pollution of AQI at 50, nor does it mean twice as harmful. While an AQI of 50 from day 1 to 182 and AQI of 100 from day 183 to 365 does provide an annual average of 75, it does not mean the pollution is acceptable even if the benchmark of 100 is deemed safe. This is because the benchmark is a 24 hour target. The annual average must match against the annual target. It is entirely possible to have safe air every day of the year but still fail the annual pollution benchmark.

AQI and Health Implications (HJ 663-2012)


Xi'ans AQI (Updated in Real-Time)

Further Links

► To learn more check the Wikipedia Air Quality topic or the AirNow guide to Air Quality and your health.
Read also this related article
Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map

Our valuable Editor ND has been with us since Monday, 15 June 2009.

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