Ambient Air Quality Standards in India

Ambient air quality means the quality of air surrounding us. National Ambient Air Quality Standards are the standards for ambient air quality set by the Central Pollution Control Board that is applicable nationwide. The CPCB has this power  of setting the standards given by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. The main objective of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 is to prevent and control Air Pollution. Recent industrialization and increased number of air polluting sources has polluted the environment with toxic materials which not only harm human health but are also a threat to the ecosystem in general. In order to cope up with deteriorating air quality, Government of India enacted Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which is an umbrella act for the protection of all aspects of the environment..

The main functions of CPCB are:

  1. To advise the appropriate government regarding improvement of the quality of air and the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
  2. To execute and plan a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
  3. To carry out due diligence  related to prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
  4. To provide annual standards for the quality of air.
  5. To compile, collect and publish technical and statistical data related to air pollution.

It is hence important that the air pollutant concentrations level are regularly checked and a proper mechanism is maintained so that one can predict unforeseen disasters.  A new National Air Quality Index (AQI) has been launched  in October 2014 to broadcast information on air quality in an easy form to the general public. WHO also give guidelines from time to time and offer global guidance on thresholds and limits for 4 key air pollutants that pose health risks. They are particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2).  By reducing these four key air pollutants air pollutant death n can be reduced to around 15% as stated by World Health Organization (WHO). These quality standards provide for the protection of asthmatics, children, old age people and animals. Many countries as well as European Union has also developed their own Ambient Air Quality Standards prescribed for their territories.

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