What is the Air Quality Index (AQI) & How It Affects Your Health

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Air quality index or AQI, is an index used for reporting daily air quality. It is a way to communicate the level of pollution in the air and focuses on the air quality and it’s related health concerns. Air quality standards have been set due to the increasing level of pollutants in the air and focuses majorly on four pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.

AQI ranges from 0-500 and each index indicates the level of pollution in the air. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern and the lower the value, the lower the air pollution and health hazard.

What are AQI standards?

AQI standards are different for different countries since the level of pollution varies across the globe. But usually, an AQI of 100 is considered as the standard air quality. The AQI indicates if the air in your city is good, bad (unhealthy), or hazardous.

●     Good or moderate air quality- This air at this index is not very polluted and has minimum health hazards. Although there are not many harmful effects of inhaling this air, hyper sensitive people are still advised to limit their exposure to the polluted air.

●     Unhealthy air quality- Air quality at this index is considered to be more polluted. Breathing this air is unhealthy especially for sensitive groups, like children, elderly, or individuals with pre existing respiratory diseases. Limiting outdoor exercises and errands is suggested to individuals.

●     Hazardous air quality- This air quality index indicates heavy pollution in the air. (Usually, the air quality index does not reach this level, as governments take preventive measure when the AQI indicates unhealthy air.) Air at this AQI is harmful for everyone and not just the sensitive group. Limited outdoor activity and lesser physical exertion is advised.

Health Hazards Of Poor Air Quality Index

Exposure to poor air quality can lead to various health hazards. Children, elderly and people with pre existing respiratory diseases are more responsive to these health problems than healthy individuals.

●     Short-term exposure and its effects- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), short term exposure to pollutants like nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide cause inflamed airways, and damage to the respiratory tract. Respiratory tract damage can lead to coughing, wheezing, etc. Other short term effects of poor air quality include fatigue, hearing loss, eye and nose irritation.

●     Long-term exposure and its effects- In the long term, poor air quality severely affects people with asthma, or other respiratory diseases. It is also a cause of these diseases in healthy individuals. Poor air quality can even trigger lung cancer and heart attacks. Poor indoor air quality also has a staggering impact on life expectancy and mortality rates.

Poor indoor air quality is a serious threat now and preventive measure need to be taken for your family’s good health. Much of the indoor air pollution that is affecting our health is unknown to us. Installing smart air quality monitors from brands like Kaiterra, uHoo,etc will be smart move toward reducing indoor air pollution. Monitoring and purifying the indoor air will not only help you identify the pollutants but also drastically improve the indoor air quality.