Understanding the air quality index: an essential tool for our health

Yellow smoke in a landscape with many polluting fumes escaping

The Air Quality Index is an indicator that assesses air pollution and its impact on our well-being.

It is used by the competent authorities, environmental associations and citizens to better understand the issues related to air quality and to adopt responsible and environmentally friendly behavior.

You can also find our complete file to easily understand air pollution .

PM2.5 and 10 fine particles next to a bacteria and a red blood cell

Air Quality Index Basics

This index is based on the measurement of several pollutants present in the atmosphere such as:

Each pollutant is rated on a concentration scale from 0 to 10, where 0 represents good air quality and 10 represents very poor air quality.

The global air quality index is obtained by taking the average of the indices attributed to each pollutant.

You can use the table below to get a better view of the different pollutants.

ATMO air quality index table in France

Actors involved in air quality monitoring

Government agencies

Air quality monitoring is carried out by various government bodies, in particular the Ministry for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) and the Regional Health Agencies .

These organizations set up measuring stations to collect data on the concentrations of pollutants in the atmosphere, analyze this information and regularly publish reports and forecasts on air quality.

Environmental associations

Several environmental associations are also involved in air quality monitoring, in particular Atmo France , which brings together approved air quality monitoring associations (AASQA) and the Respire association in France.

These associations' mission is to collect, process and disseminate information on air quality to the general public, local authorities and businesses, in order to raise citizens' awareness of environmental issues and contribute to the development of public policies. promoting healthy air for all.

The impacts of air pollution on our health and our environment

Poor air quality can have negative consequences on our health and our environment.

Among the most common effects are:

  1. Aggravation of respiratory diseases , such as asthma or chronic bronchitis, due to exposure to fine particles and chemicals in the air;
  2. Cardiovascular problems , caused by the inflammation of blood vessels and the formation of clots;
  3. Neurological disorders , related to the accumulation of heavy metals in the brain;
  4. Cancers , especially those of the lung, caused by exposure to atmospheric pollutants;
  5. Global warming , due to the emission of greenhouse gases and the decrease in the capacity of vegetation to absorb CO2;
  6. The degradation of ecosystems , due to the pollution of soil, water and air, which disrupts biological cycles and harms biodiversity.
Factories that emit air pollution fumes on the outskirts of a city

    Measures to improve air quality

    In order to preserve our health and our environment, it is essential to adopt measures aimed at reducing the sources of air pollution:

    • Reduce the use of motorized vehicles : favor public transport, carpooling, walking or cycling.
    • Limit industrial emissions : encourage companies to adopt cleaner and less energy-intensive technologies.
    • Promote energy efficiency : develop green buildings and encourage the use of energy efficient appliances.
    • Encourage reforestation : plant trees to absorb CO2 and improve air quality.
    • Raising public awareness : informing about the impacts of air pollution and promoting responsible behavior.

    The air quality index is a valuable tool for assessing pollution levels in our environment and anticipating risks to our health.

    The players involved in air quality monitoring have an essential role to play in raising citizens' awareness of environmental issues and promoting the adoption of measures aimed at preserving healthy air for all.

    In the same theme as the air quality index