A Beginner’s Guide to the Air Quality Index


Do you know your AQI Yellow from your AQI Maroon?

In this pollution-conscious age, tracking our air quality is vital. The AQI lets us track our current air quality levels, as well as get an idea for future forecasts. But if you’re new to air quality tracking, it can be difficult wading through the technical terms.

Don’t worry! Read on for everything you need to know in our beginner’s guide to the Air Quality Index (AQI).

What Is the US Air Quality Index?

AQI stands for the US Air Quality Index. It’s what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses to report daily air quality.

What It Is

It has color-coded categories and uses statements for each one to explain air quality. It will give you information such as:

  • Current air quality in your area
  • What population groups it will affect
  • How you can reduce exposure to air pollution

You can help protect yourself in a few ways — like installing an air filtering system for home.

Who Issues It

Since 1976, the EPA has issued a national index on air quality. It provided an easy-to-understand, consistent daily report. To avoid any confusion, the format was the same for each state.

As we know it today, the AQI has been with us since 1999. It’s seen updates to reflect the latest health-based air quality standards. But largely, it remains the same since then.

What Pollutants It Covers

The US AQI covers the 5 major pollutants covered in the Clean Air Act. These are:

  • Ozone
  • Particle pollution (particulate matter)
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Sulfur dioxide

For each pollutant, it’s generally based on national ambient air quality standards. These are health-based and uses scientific information that supports these standards.

How Does the AQI Work?

Consider the AQI as a yardstick running from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value is, the higher the air pollution level. For example, an AQI value of under 50 shows good air quality. A value that’s over 300 registers as a hazardous air quality level.

100 represents the national short-term air quality standard to protect public health. A value that comes in under 100 is satisfactory. When they go above 100, the air is unhealthy.

The risk then scales the higher the value climbs. It starts off as a risk for certain population groups, then it will start to affect more people as the AQI value goes up.

AQI Color Codes

To further clarify the value categories, the EPA assigns a color to each one. This helps people better see if the air pollution in their area is reaching hazardous levels. The colors are as follows:

Green — Good, AQI ranges between 0–50.
Yellow — Moderate, AQI ranges between 51–100.
Orange — Unhealthy for sensitive groups, AQI ranges between 101–150.
Red — Unhealthy, AQI ranges between 151–200.
Purple — Very Unhealthy, AQI ranges 201–300.
Maroon — Hazardous, AQI ranges between 301–500.

Air Quality Index Made Easy

So there you have it! Now you know the basics of the Air Quality Index you can track air pollution with ease. It can help you keep track of the air levels around your home area. You’ll also get advice on ways to help protect yourself and your family.

If you found this article useful, then check out our other blog posts today!

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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1 year ago

Hey LaDonna that was a wonderful and easy to understand article on Air Quality Index. I have an air purifier which comes with a AQI feature but I don’t know that much about it. But thanks to you for the information you shared.