Revised PM2.5 AQI breakpoints

Posted on September 9th 2013
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For some historical reason, the AQI convertion formula used for some of the cities on the World Air Quality Index project were not using the updated 2012 EPA PM2.5 standard. (This is only relevant for cities in Asia, like Japan and Taiwan. Other continents (America, Europe and Australia) have always been using the 2012 standard.

The main change is this updated EPA standard, published on December 14th 2012, compared to the previous one (published in 1999), is to reduce (limit) the PM2.5 AQI level 50 from 15µg/m3 to 12µg/m3, and this in order to enforce more strict air quality standards.

Since September 9th 2013, all the countries are now using the same PM2.5 AQI conversion scale, which is reflected in this table:

AQI CategoryIndex ValuesPrevious Breakpoints
(µg/m3, 24-hour average)
Revised Breakpoints
(µg/m3, 24-hour average)
Good0 - 500.0 - 15.00.0 – 12.0
Moderate51 - 100>15.0 - 4012.1 – 35.4
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups101 – 150>40 – 6535.5 – 55.4
Unhealthy151 – 200> 65 – 15055.5 – 150.4
Very Unhealthy201 – 300> 150 – 250150.5 – 250.4
Hazardous301 – 400> 250 – 350250.5 – 350.4
Hazardous401 – 500> 350 – 500350.5 – 500


On a PM2.5 particule mass scale from 0µg/m3 to 100µg/m3, here is a visual comparison for the old and new standard AQI grades:

Particule
mass
10 µg/m320 µg/m330 µg/m340 µg/m350 µg/m360 µg/m370 µg/m380 µg/m390
         
Old AQI
Standard:
0..5050..100100..150150.....
         
New AQI
Standard:
0..5050..100100..150150.....


The Ozone calculation has also been updated to taken into account the 8-hours standard: The Ozone AQI is the calculated as the maximum of the 1-hour and 8 hours AQI, where the 1 hour AQI is only valid above 100 and the 8 hours AQI below 300. The 8 hour averaging is based on the calculation described in the procedure for calculating state 8-hour ozone concentrations.

AQI CategoryIndex Values8-hours breakpoints
(ppm)
1-hour breakpoints
(ppm)
Good0 - 500 - 60-
Moderate51 - 10060 - 75-
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups101 – 15075 – 95125 - 165
Unhealthy151 – 20095 – 115165 - 205
Very Unhealthy201 – 300115 – 375205 - 405
Hazardous301 – 500-405 - 505



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  • Air Quality Forecasting in Northern India
  • A visual study of Wind impact on PM2.5 Concentration
  • UNEP Air Quality Monitoring Station




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    About the Air Quality and Pollution Measurement:

    About the Air Quality Levels

    AQIAir Pollution LevelHealth ImplicationsCautionary Statement (for PM2.5)
    0 - 50GoodAir quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no riskNone
    51 -100ModerateAir quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
    101-150Unhealthy for Sensitive GroupsMembers of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
    151-200UnhealthyEveryone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effectsActive children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
    201-300Very UnhealthyHealth warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.
    300+HazardousHealth alert: everyone may experience more serious health effectsEveryone should avoid all outdoor exertion

    To know more about Air Quality and Pollution, check the wikipedia Air Quality topic or the airnow guide to Air Quality and Your Health.

    For very useful health advices of Beijing Doctor Richard Saint Cyr MD, check www.myhealthbeijing.com blog.


    Usage Notice: All the Air Quality data are unvalidated at the time of publication, and due to quality assurance these data may be amended, without notice, at any time. The World Air Quality Index project has exercised all reasonable skill and care in compiling the contents of this information and under no circumstances will the World Air Quality Index project team or its agents be liable in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss, injury or damage arising directly or indirectly from the supply of this data.



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