Daily Air Quality Index
In the UK, most air pollution information services use the index and banding system recommended by the Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP). The system uses an index numbered 1-10, divided into four bands to provide more detail about air pollution levels in a simple way, similar to the sun index or pollen index.
The overall air pollution index for a site or region is determined by the highest concentration of five pollutants:
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Sulphur Dioxide
- Particles < 2.5µm (PM2.5)
- Particles < 10µm (PM10)
How to use the Daily Air Quality Index
Step 1: Determine whether you (or your children) are likely to be at-risk from air pollution. Information on groups who may be affected is provided on the Additional information on the short-term effects of air pollution page. Your doctor may also be able to give you advice.
Step 2: If you may be at-risk, and are planning strenuous activity outdoors, check the air pollution forecast.
Step 3: Use the health messages corresponding to the highest forecast level of pollution as a guide.
|Air Pollution Banding||Value||
Accompanying health messages for at-risk groups and
|At-risk individuals*||General population|
|Low||1-3||Enjoy your usual outdoor activities.||
Enjoy your usual outdoor activities.
|Moderate||4-6||Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, who experience symptoms, should consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.||Enjoy your usual outdoor activities.|
|High||7-9||Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion.||Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors.|
|Very High||10||Adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems, and older people, should avoid strenuous physical activity. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.||Reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as cough or sore throat.|
*Adults and children with heart or lung problems are at greater risk of symptoms. Follow your doctor's usual advice about exercising and managing your condition. It is possible that very sensitive individuals may experience health effects even on Low air pollution days. Anyone experiencing symptoms should follow the guidance provided below.
Boundaries Between Index Points for Each Pollutant
Use the tabs below to view the bandings for each pollutant.
Based on the running 8-hourly mean.
|µg/m³||0-33||34-66||67-100||101-120||121-140||141-160||161-187||188-213||214-240||241 or more|
You may also be interested in:
- Glossary of common terms used in the context of air pollution
- World Health Organisation - air pollution topic page
- UK Health Protection Agency
- Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP)
Page last modified: 09 May 2013