Monitor Placement

Air Quality Index (AQI) Standards for United States

About Our Study

Seven air quality monitors have been placed in the Pleasantville and Clinton Park area to monitor the environmental conditions of these communities. The goal of this project is to look for trends in undesirable air quality and help the Pleasantville and Clinton Park communities monitor their outdoor air exposure and relevant health conditions. This information will be updated monthly.

What's In Our Air?

Rachel White, MPH

The EPA calculates AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. However, it is important to note that for Pleasantville monitors, AQI is based largely on PM2.5. For each of these pollutants, the EPA has established the national air quality standards to protect public health that you see above in figure 2. If the AQI value for your community is between 0 and 50, then air quality is good and poses minimal health risk.

PM2.5 is a small fine particle that is 2.5 micrometers in size. These particles come from various sources. For example, construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, and smokestacks of fires. In 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthened the nation’s air quality standards for fine particle pollution to improve public health protection by revising the primary annual PM2.5 standards to 12 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) and retaining the 24- hour fine particle standard of 35 µg/m3. According to the U.S EPA, exposure to fine particle pollution is linked to a variety of significant cardiovascular and respiratory health problems. Particle pollution also harms public welfare, including causing haze in cities and some of our nation’s most treasured national parks. The area in question will meet the standard if the three-year average of annual average PM2.5 concentration is less than or equal to 12µg/m3 or if the measurement does not reach 35 in any 24-hour period.


PM 2.5

If the AQI is between 51 and 100, air quality is considered moderate; however, pollution in this range may pose a health concern for individuals who are immunocompromised and/or vulnerable to air pollution. If the AQI is between 101-150, then air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. The EPA recommends those who are sensitive, such as elderly, children, people with lung disease, and people with heart disease, should reduce prolonged outdoor exposure during these conditions. These values are considered appropriate for most of the population. However, as previously stated, vulnerable populations may experience symptoms at lower levels of exposure.

Figure 3 depicts daily average AQI measurements during the month of May.  The daily average AQI was in “good condition,” in the 0-50 range, for most of the month in Pleasantville and Clinton Park. The highest peaks during these months are indicated with their respective date and AQI measurement. The air quality was in “moderate condition,” in the 51-100 range during these peaks.

While Figure 3 depicts the daily averages for AQI, Figure 4 depicts the average hourly measurements for AQI. The daily averages are very useful to view trends more clearly; however, averages inherently diminish peaks and high readings. For the majority of May, AQI was in the moderate or good range.

Figure 4: Time Series Hourly AQI Measurements from Clarity Monitors Taken Between May 1, 2021 -  May 31, 2021

Figure 5 depicts the daily average measurements for PM2.5 from May 1, 2021 – May 31, 2021. The area in question will meet the standard if the three-year annual average of PM2.5 concentration is less than or equal to 12µg/m3 or if the measurement does not sustain 35 µg/m3 in any 24-hour period. Based on the readings in May, PM2.5 did not sustain a 35 µg/m3 reading for a 24-hour period. However, the readings were above 12 µg/m3 for a 24-hour period and will be monitored for the yearly average.

Figure 6 depicts the hourly measurements for calibrated PM2.5 mass concentration during the month of May. Although in May readings did not reach greater than 35 mg/m3, our goal is to continue to monitor these locations where readings are notably high. This evidence will allow us to request regulatory monitors which can provide further incentive for elected officials to intervene.

Figure 6

November 2020
October 2020

Prior Reports