Air Quality: How is air quality measured?

The air around us can have a serious impact on our health. In the UK an estimated 28,000 to 36,000 deaths a year are caused by long term exposure to man-made air pollution.

Across the country hundreds of recording stations are constantly checking the quality of the air we breathe.

They measure the pollutants that are most likely to affect health:

  • Ground level ozone

  • Sulfur dioxide

  • Nitrogen dioxide

  • Airborne particles, or aerosols

All this information is used to create the Daily Air Quality Index, and help forecast pollution levels

Air Quality Index Example Credit: ITV Weather - with data from DEFRA and Met Office

 It uses a colour coded scale of 1 to 10.

Low air pollution is between 1 and 3, Moderate between 4 and 6, High is between 7 and 9, and Very High is 10 on the scale 

Air pollution levels Credit: ITV Weather, DEFRA and Met Office
  • 1-3: Enjoy your usual outdoor activities

  • 4-6: At risk individuals consider reducing physical activity outdoors

  • 7-9: Anyone experiencing discomfort should reduce physical activity

  • 10: Everyone should avoid or reduce physical activity

You can find more information on air quality on the CleanAirHub