Decoding Air Quality Index:
Air pollution has become one of the biggest environmental health risks ever. Millions of people die each year due to ailments where the cause of death has been linked to constant exposure to polluted air. Of the 6-7 million premature deaths each year due to air pollution, more than 50% of those occur in China and India alone. As per a recent study air pollution is the fifth largest cause of deaths in India.
While air pollution has been impacting each one of us, it’s only lately that the subject has got the right attention from the policy makers and public at large. Educating the masses on the causes and impact of air pollution is the first step towards cohesive approach to executing solutions wherein everyone contributes to contain this problem. Air pollution is not an issue that can be addressed in isolation by an agency or government. Each citizen needs to contribute towards the larger good and pure air.
On occasions half-baked information or actions based on mere hear-say become showstoppers in taking forward larger agenda and policy decisions in the absence of adequate support from right stakeholders. I would like to demystify some of the misconceptions people have around the Air Quality Index (AQI).
Over last few months there has been a lot of awareness around Air Quality Index and people have started to use the fluctuation in AQI to declare success or failure of various initiatives taken by communities and government. AQI is a good index to monitor air quality and tells how clean or unhealthy the air is and associated health effects, but one needs to understand the basic assumptions behind it to derive inferences. When looking at air pollution levels in a city it should be viewed from not only a city-wide level, but more importantly in localised zones given the impact some of the local actions could have on AQI.