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Why Air Quality Index Varies So Much within a City

The caveat is that data from a single monitoring station cannot be applied to an entire city

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The US Embassy and Consulates' air quality monitors measure airborne fine particulate matter (commonly referred to as PM 2.5 because they are less than or equal to 2.5 microns in diameter) on the compounds of the Embassy and Consulates. Pixabay

If you are puzzled at the divergent data on air quality and the myriad numbers being thrown around, for those living in and around Delhi, it may be a good idea to get acquainted with the Air Quality Index (AQI) and the numbers behind it since bad air has become an annual fixture.

Under the American system, only PM 2.5 values are taken to determine the level of pollution and the AQI number. Under the American system, values above 500 are considered beyond the AQI.

The US Embassy and Consulates’ air quality monitors measure airborne fine particulate matter (commonly referred to as PM 2.5 because they are less than or equal to 2.5 microns in diameter) on the compounds of the Embassy and Consulates. The caveat is that data from a single monitoring station cannot be applied to an entire city.

The air quality data collected at the US Embassy and Consulates may differ from other monitors located in the same city.

Air, City, Data
Under the American system, only PM 2.5 values are taken to determine the level of pollution and the AQI number. Pixabay

Under the Indian computation, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Safar India give an index value for AQI which is a numerical scale used for reporting day-to-day air quality with regard to human health and the environment.

The CPCB launched AQI for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms which are easy to understand, and which transforms complex air quality data of various pollutants into a single number (index value), nomenclature and colour.

There are six AQI categories — good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor, and severe.

So, there is a singe AQI number or index value which CPCB puts out or Safar India, another official data source, puts out.

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AQ sub-index and health breakpoints are evolved for eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24 hours) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.

Apart from AQI, there is a count for major pollutants, PM 10 and PM 2.5 which are given separately by these monitoring and forecasting agencies.

In addition, there will be different AQI scores for different locations in a large metropolis like Delhi. For instance, at 5.15 p.m. on Friday, the AQI in Delhi at different locations varied from 450 in Vasant Vihar to a high of 643 in Siri Fort.

The AQI at different localities was mapped at Kalkaji (544), Okhla (553), Tughlakabad (588), Mundka (610), Punjabi Bagh (600) and Anand Vihar (602) — all with varying readings.

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Under the American system, values above 500 are considered beyond the AQI. Pixabay

With the public health emergency being declared, experts say the announcement could have come earlier.

Tanushree Ganguly, Programme Associate, Council on Energy, Environment and Water said, “Delhi has been experiencing severe air quality conditions for the past four days and PM 2.5 levels have now exceeded 300ug/m3. While declaring a public health emergency today is definitely a welcome move, the announcement could have come earlier”.

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She said the authorities must consider lowering the threshold concentration needed for declaring an emergency so that vulnerable sections of the population are not exposed to such high concentrations of PM2.5. “Also, at such high levels of ambient concentration, the indoor air quality also gets worse”. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Loves Your Data, and Rakes in Moolah Every Year

Facebook is facing scrutiny after personal data of 87 million users were harvested by UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine as a result of the breach

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Our data is invaluable to Facebook and the social networking giant earned $157.41 average revenue per user (ARPU) in the US and Canada in the past five quarters.

In comparison, Facebook earned only $15 average revenue per user in Asia-Pacific in the same time period, it Q3 2019 earnings have revealed.

Facebook is earning triple the revenue from its US users as from its users in Europe where average revenue per user was mere $50.73 in the last five quarters.

“Part of that is attributable to the fact that American consumers spend more in general — per capita consumption in the US is about 80 per cent higher than in Europe,” reports Slate.

Facebook has nearly 1.62 billion daily active users and 2.4 billion monthly active users.

A cache of recently leaked Facebook documents, obtained by NBC News, showed how the CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power by treating users’ data as a bargaining chip.

Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

This trove comprises approximately 7,000 pages in total, of which about 4,000 are internal Facebook communications such as emails, web chats, notes, presentations and spreadsheets, primarily from 2011 to 2015.

About 1,200 pages are marked as “highly confidential”.

According to the report, the emails, notes and other documents dated as far back as 2011 and were supposed to be kept out of the public eye pending the civil case in California.

Despite dismissing Tinder co-founder Sean Rad as irrelevant, Zuckerberg also allowed the dating app special access to user data, as revealed by leaked exchanges.

Access to Facebook data helped Tinder thrive, but there came a point when it inched closer to losing that access.

The leaked correspondence was part of a long-running lawsuit in California state court, between former Facebook app developer Six4three and Facebook.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. VOA

In 2014, Facebook, which is facing several antitrust investigations, announced a new set of rules to prevent third-party app developers from getting access to data on users’ friends. The social networking giant set May 2015 as the deadline for complying with the new rules. But some firms continued to have access to the crucial data, including Tinder.

In yet another data breach, Facebook earlier this month revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

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The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface).

Facebook is facing scrutiny after personal data of 87 million users were harvested by UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine as a result of the breach. (IANS)