Standard Article

Air Quality Index, Facilitating Communication With

Environmental Policy and Regulation

  1. William F. Hunt Jr

Published Online: 15 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.vap024m.pub2

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

How to Cite

Hunt Jr, W. F. 2013. Air Quality Index, Facilitating Communication With . Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 1.

Author Information

  1. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2013


Air quality indicators can take many different forms. Why are they needed? We live in a technical society that collects vast quantities of environmental data. Indicators translate this environmental data into a form that is readily understood. Those asking questions seek answers in the simplest form. Is the environmental problem becoming better or worse? Often the questioner is told the problem is “too complex.” The governmental official or scientist may prefer to give no answer at all than give an imperfect answer that could lead to a misunderstanding. The layman prefers an imperfect answer to no answer at all. An indicator must be able to translate complex information into a form that is readily understood by decision makers as well as laymen. Indicators may have many uses: daily reporting to the general public (for those pollutants with short-term health effects), for trends, and for evaluating the overall effectiveness of environmental policies/regulations across multiple pollutants. This article discusses the development of the Pollutant Standards Index (1976), which was promulgated as the index used for public reporting in 1979 and was later updated to become the USEPA's Air Quality Index (1999).


  • air quality index;
  • Pollutant Standards Index;
  • National ambient air quality standards;
  • public reporting on air pollution and health