National Air Quality Index
The NAQI was prepared by an expert group, set up the Ministry of Environment and Forests, comprising of renowned medical practitioners from hospitals and research agencies.
The index is a part of the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The index will measure eight major pollutants, namely, particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead. Currently, only particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide are being measured.
The index will be based on real time monitoring, and the health risks will be easily identified through a colour coded system. The risks will be signified through six levels – good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor, and severe. Air quality is qualified as good if the level of air pollution if at least 50% below the permissible limits set by the Pollution Control authorities.
The index will be extended to 46 cities having a population of more than one mn, and 20 state capitals over the next five years.
Purpose of the NAQI
The NAQI allows for easy dissemination of information pertaining to air quality and risks associated with it. The simplicity of the NAQI also makes it accessible to the common man. The use of the colour coded system makes is easier for people to comprehend instantly.
The index will also update the currently outdated system of monitoring air quality. 246 cities in India monitor their air quality in some for, however, only 16 cities have real time monitoring. Eventually , the index will be expanded to cover cities with a population of more than half a million. The real time information will help the authorities deal immediately and effectively to counter the impacts of the air pollution.