Ambient air quality monitoring is the organized, long-term assessment of pollutant levels by measuring the quantity of certain pollutants in the surrounding and outdoor air. It is an integral part of an effective air quality management system. Data collected from monitoring stations helps to:

  • assess the extent of pollution level
  • provide air pollution data to the public in a timely manner
  • support implementation of air quality standards
  • evaluate the effectiveness of action plans for pollution control
  • provide information on air quality trends
  • support research on long-term studies of the health effects of air pollution

Air Quality Index

The AQI is a tool for the effective communication of air quality status to people in terms, which are easy to understand. It transforms complex air quality data of various pollutants into a single number (index value), nomenclature and colour. There are six AQI categories, namely, good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor, and severe. Each of these categories is decided based on the ambient concentration values of air pollutants and their likely health impacts.  Typically, the index is calculated using the ambient concentrations of six pollutants - particulates less than 10 µm in diameter (PM10), particulates less than 2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone for which short-term (upto 24-hours) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed. Based on the measured ambient concentrations of a pollutant, a sub-index is calculated using standard formulae developed by EPA. The worst sub-index determines the overall AQI. The AQI categories and health breakpoints for the eight pollutants are given in Table.



Associated Health Impact


0 to 50



Minimal impact

51 to 100



May cause minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people

101 to 200



May cause breathing discomfort to the  people with lung disease such as asthma and discomfort to people with heart disease, children and older adults

201 to 300



May cause breathing discomfort to people on prolonged exposure and discomfort to people with heart disease

301 to 400

Very Poor


May cause respiratory illness to the people on prolonged exposure. Effect may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases

401 to 500



May cause respiratory effects even on healthy people and serious health impact on people with lung/heart diseases. The health impact may be experienced even during light physical activity.

Government of India Initiatives

The Central Government launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to tackle the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner with targets to achieve 20% to 30% reduction in Particulate Matter concentrations by 2024 keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration. Under NCAP, 124 non-attainment cities have been identified across the country based on the Air Quality data from 2014-2018. List of non attainment cities can be found at

  • National Air Quality Monitoring Programme
  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
  • National Air Quality index (AQI)
  • Forty-two Action Points
  • Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA)
  • Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

National Air Quality Index       


Sameer App

     State Initiatives

In State of Punab, Ambient Air Quality is monitored at 28 locations including 4 rural area stations in Punjab under National Air Monitoring Programme (NAMP) for 24 hrs thrice a week. The monitoring of ambient air is carried out in the cities i.ePatiala,  DeraBassi, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh  Dera Baba Nanak and Naya Nangal. 

Four stations have been set up in rural areas of village Rasulpur (Distt. Amritsar), Village Gangsar (Distt. Sangrur), Village Himmatpura, (Distt. Faridkot) and Village Mukandpur (Distt. S.B.S. Nagar) to monitor the impact of burning of griculture residue on the ambient air quality there.

Punjab has six Continues (online) Ambient Air Quality Stations viz., Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Khanna, Mandi Gobinfgarh and Patiala under National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) out of identified 9 non-attainment cities in Punjab by CPCB.