Ambient Air Quality Standards In India

Why is it in News?

In a study undertaken by IIT Delhi, it has been found that use of kerosene, fire woods and coal in household contribute to 40% of the PM2.5 level in Gangetic basin districts of India.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS):

  • Ambient air quality refers to the condition or quality of air surrounding us in the outdoors.
  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards are the standards for ambient air quality set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that is applicable nationwide.
  • The CPCB has been conferred this power by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • The current National Ambient Air Quality Standards were notified on 18 November 2009 by the Central Pollution Control Board. It consists of 12 pollutants namely- PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, Lead (Pb), Benzene, Benzopyrene, Arsenic and Nickel.

If India already has NAAQS, then why was National Air Quality Index (AQI) launched in 2014?

  • National Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched by the government under Mission in 2014.
  • NAAQS becomes a little tedious for the common man to comprehend the air quality, so the government decided that they should come up with a mechanism in which the common man is able to comprehend the air quality in his/her vicinity.
  • The AQI was launched to simplify the things with ‘One Number-One Colour-One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity.
  • The AQI considers eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are taken for calculation.
  • There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately Polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe depending upon the eight pollutants level.

Related Facts:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is not considered as a pollutant in NAAQS & AQI.
  • It is important to note that CO2 is greenhouse gas, but is not a pollutant.

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR):

  • Ministry of Earth Sciences has unveiled state of the art air quality and weather forecasting system SAFAR in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. Such systems are to be implemented in other cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune too.
  • SAFAR was developed indigenously by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and operationalized by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • In addition to regular air quality parameters like PM2.5, PM10, Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide, the system also monitors the existence of Benzene, Toluene and Xylene.
  • It also measures Sun’s UV Index and Mercury levels.
  • SAFAR also monitors the weather parameters like temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind directions etc.

Source: PIB,, TH