A review of current air quality indexes and improvements under the multi-contaminant air pollution exposure.

Affiliation

Tan X(1), Han L(2), Zhang X(3), Zhou W(4), Li W(5), Qian Y(6).
Author information:
(1)State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(3)State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China; School of Geography and Tourism, Shanxi Normal University, Xi'an, 710119, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(4)State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China; Beijing Urban Ecosystem Research Station, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(5)State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(6)State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

The air quality is one of the major concerns in the urban environment due to the rapid changes in pollutant emissions driven by complex and intensive human activities. Therefore, quantification of the urban air quality has become an essential need for both urban residents and authorities to quickly assess air quality conditions. To reach this aim, the air quality index (AQI) is the primary way to better understand the urban air quality. However, the varied AQIs in different countries are difficult to directly compare due to the varied calculation methods. Thus, this research presents an updated review of the major AQIs worldwide by dividing them into two categories: single- and multi-contaminant-oriented AQIs. Single-contaminant-oriented AQIs are based on the maximum value of individual pollutants and are applied in most countries with location-dependent standards, such as the United States, China, the United Kingdom and New South Wales, Australia. However, these may greatly underestimate the impact of multiple contaminants, be difficult to dynamically update or to be compared internationally. Moreover, multi-contaminant-oriented AQIs are available in the literature, which consider the combined effects of exposure to multiple contaminants. Among these AQIs, arithmetic pollutant aggregation simply integrates pollutants in a linear or nonlinear way, and weighted pollutant aggregation further assigns varied weights from different perspectives. Combining the advantages and disadvantages of the existing AQIs, the general air quality health index (GAQHI) is proposed as a pollutant-aggregated, local health-based AQI paradigm suitable for the present complex multi-contaminant situation. It provides a direction for the construction of a more accurate, consistent and comparable AQI system and can help both researchers and governments improve human well-being and achieve sustainable development.