Air Quality Index

Let’s talk about the Air Quality Index! AQI is a measurement of how healthy the air is, with readings from 0 to 500.

AQI above 100 is unhealthy for people in sensitive groups – children, seniors, and those with respiratory conditions like asthma, for example.

Readings above 151 are ranked as unhealthy for everyone, no matter what your health status is. Limiting heavy outdoor activities, for example, should be considered.

Readings between 201-300 are ranked as very unhealthy – and readings above 300 are ranked as hazardous. When the AQI is this high, everyone should take precautions. Wearing a mask, for example, will reduce the impact of the poor air quality.

NYS DEC and the EPA use a network of monitors in WNY to set a regional rating. This rating is not always reflected by the conditions you see on the ground, as this is a regional average. Also check out the EPA’s website, which will give a reading by zip code.

You can also check out the PurpleAir monitor map – these monitors are consumer grade, so are not as accurate as the official state-managed monitors, but will generally give an accurate read. Sometimes these monitors are able to pick up local readings that will be more accurate than the regional reading, but at the same time, this may not be reflective of all the air quality in the neighborhood – a high reading may be from a diesel engine idling nearby, for example.

We are getting ready to soon launch our Community Air Monitoring project with the DEC, in which we will be distributing a large number of PurpleAir monitors to leaders throughout Erie and Niagara County. Stay tuned for the sign up form!

More Resources –

NYS DEC Air Quality Main Page

NYS DEC Regional AQI Ratings

NYS DEC Air Quality Index (AQI) Legend and Additional Information

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