National Air Quality Index – India

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Air Quality

Air quality means the suitability of the air for breathing by humans and animals. A person inhales about approx 14,000 litres of air every day. Hence, adverse / poor quality of air will affect the quality of life. Overall, it will affect our posterity affecting the health, the environment, the economy, infact the liveability of the locality / city. Good ambient (outdoor) air quality is basic to our good health and well-being. Therefore, violation of the right to healthy environment is potentially a violation of the basic right to life (NAAQS).

Air Quality Index, India

Air Quality Index (AQI) is a measurement of the quality of ambient air we breathe in our surrounding environment. Different countries have different quality indices. These indices measure the air quality in the country. There are 6 categories of AQI, India, namely, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
These categories are decided on the basis of the following:
  • Ambient Concentration values of air pollutants
  • Their likely impact on health (known as health breakpoints)
As the air quality deteriorates, so does the ranking of air from good to bad then very poor to severe as follows:

AQI Pollutants’ constituents

India’s National Air Quality Index was launched on September 17, 2014 in New Delhi under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by the then, Environment Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar. It converts complex air quality data of various pollutants/contaminants into a single number which is called index value and checks whether the amount of these pollutants in the air exceed the criteria set or not. Breakeven points for AQI Scale is (0-500) as follows.

AQI Categories & their harmful health affects

The six Air Quality Index categories based on air quality & their adverse health impacts are:
  • Good – Minimal Effect
  • Satisfactory – May cause minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people.
  • Moderately Polluted – May cause breathing discomfort to people with living disease such as asthma and discomfort to people with heart disease.
  • Poor – May cause breathing discomfort to people on prolonged exposure, and discomfort to people with heart disease.
  • Very Poor – May cause respiratory illness to the people on prolonged exposure. Effects may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart disease.
  • Severe – May cause respiratory impact even on healthy people with lung/heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.
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Know Your Home Air

Gas heating systems, leaking chimneys, fire places emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants. Plastics and common household cleaners, paints, paint thinner often placed under the kitchen sink, release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), when used and stored. Overheating of non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes. Pesticides we use in and around the home also release various chemical and semi-volatile compounds.


Harmful effects
Carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness and fatigue. These often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Fine particles are produced during all kinds of combustion which lead to acute and chronic effects to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Pet dander and hair, carpet, rugs, upholstery furniture are main source of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. A dirty filter of air conditioners acts as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco products and mosquito coil emits VOC’s and formaldehyde and various particulate matters. CO2 released from our lungs is exhaled in the air which pollutes the air if the place is too crowded or there is less ventilation.


Harmful effects
All these can trigger coughing, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting,
digestive tract problems, depression, allergy and asthma attacks, and other respiratory illness.

Shower, faucets and other water sources are main cause of humidity and mold. Bathroom cleaners and personal care products like toothpaste, soaps, facial tissues, detergent, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorizers, hair sprays, disinfectants, are full of VOC’s and chemicals which emits harmful pollutants.


Harmful effects
Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory ailments. VOC’s and toxic chemicals released in the bathroom can causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and respiratory problems. All these products release harmful pollutants while they are used also when they are stored.

A bedroom contains many sources of indoor air pollution. Mattress, pillow and blankets, soft toys, are the reservoirs of dust mites, fungi and bacteria. Furniture, carpets, paints and beauty product like hairspray, nail polishes, perfumes, deodorants etc off gas VOC, formaldehyde and toxic gases into the air.


Harmful effects
These pollutants make the air unhealthy which leads to allergy, asthma attacks, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other respiratory ailments.

Second-hand smoke
Second hand Smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Passive smoking can lead to coughing, excess phlegm, and chest discomfort. NCI (National Cancer Institute) also notes that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), cervical cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, nasal sinus cancer, decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, and negative cognitive and behavioral effects in children have been linked to ETS. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.

Guest Bathroom

Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
The air filter in your HVAC system is the front line of defense against poor indoor air quality. A typical central heating and cooling system circulates over 1,000 cubic feet per minute of air through the filter. This means the entire air volume in your house passes through the filter multiple times every day. A dirty filter, however, can actually make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. In addition to driving up your utility bill, a clogged air filter will allow all that dust and debris that should be filtered out to be re-circulated back into your home. This can cause chronic allergies and especially be dangerous for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

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