Air Quality and Air Quality Indices: a world apart? ETC/ACC Technical Paper 2005/5

26 Oct 2005

Iulian Petchesi

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a widely used concept to communicate with the public on air quality. A growing number of national and local environment agencies use the AQI for (near) real-time dissemination of air quality information. A survey of five different AQI operational in four countries showed a common concept behind the AQI but a strongly different practical implementation. Using actual concentration data from 10 stations over Europe, it is shown that, although there is a reasonable correlation between the five AQIs, both the classification of the air pollution situation as well as the determining pollutant is different in the various AQI.

The EEA is extending the current OzoneWeb towards a more full grown exchange platform of (near real-time) air pollution information. It has been suggested to present the information by means of an AQI. Doing this both at the European and at the local level by using different AQI approaches, this might result in conflicting or, at least, confusing messages to the public. Harmonisation of AQI will be needed.

Prepared by: Frank de Leeuw and Wim Mol of the ETC/ACC (RIVM)

Publication date: November 2005, 34 pp.