Air Quality Monitors : Understanding the Air around Us

With the issue of air pollution looming large in New Delhi, citizens are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of the air they breathe. Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation has installed an air quality monitoring device in its outdoor office space. We now have an hourly data to track particulate matter and related parameters in the surrounding area of Munirka. The collected data will be useful to local residents and help gauge pollution levels in the area.

Ushering in several measures to control the alarming pollution in Delhi, the Supreme Court has banned the registration of diesel SUVs and high-end vehicles in the city with engine capacity of over 2000 cc until March 31, 2016 and also stopped entry of goods vehicles not bound for the national capital via NH1 and NH8. The court today also raised by 100 percent the green cess currently being levied on commercial vehicles entering Delhi. Lately Delhi has been reported to have air pollution levels worse than that of Beijing, which only recently announced the first ‘red alert’ on air pollution. Pollutants in Delhi’s air, particularly hazardous PM2.5, are present at dangerously high levels.

In Delhi and other metros, citizens are increasingly becoming concerned about the quality of the air they breathe. Given this, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation has installed an air quality monitoring device in its outdoor office area to track particulate matter in the vicinity.  We are situated at the edge of a busy flyover on the outer ring road, which draws heavy vehicular traffic, and is prone to high levels of air pollution.

This device captures data every five minutes updating it on an hourly basis,  on on an hourly basis. It records PM2.5, as well as PM10 levels, to calculate the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the area. The AQI is recorded in numbers based on a scale (Fig.1) spanning from ‘good’ to ‘severe’.

AQI Remark Impact
0-50 Good Minimal Impact
51-100 Satisfactory Minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people
101-200 Moderate Breathing discomfort to people with sensitive lungs, asthma and/or heart diseases
201-300 Poor Breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure
 301-400 Very Poor Respiratory illness on prolonged exposure
401-500 Severe Affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases