Benton Clean Air Agency

Air Quality Index

EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI)

What is EPA’s Air Quality Index?

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a national uniform system, defined and used by the EPA, to report pollution levels for the criteria air pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act. The AQI provides citizens with information about the general health effects associated with different pollution levels.

In Benton County, particulate air pollutants are monitored. To learn more about these pollutants and federal air quality standards for each, click here.

The AQI converts the highest measured pollutant concentration in a community’s air to a number on a scale of 0 to 500. The data is reported as a rolling 24-hour value which is updated hourly and reported here.

How does unhealthy air affect people?

Fine particulate matter is a major air pollutant that has been shown to cause a number of health symptoms and complications. People will have difficulties breathing polluted air depending on their age and their health. People most sensitive to air pollution include:

  • Infants and children
  • Older adults (those 65 and older)
  • People with lung and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or those with a current respiratory infection.

People sensitive to air pollution may experience problems sooner and at lower levels of pollution. When people are active they breathe more air into their bodies. If air pollution levels rise, they will take in more pollutants. The amount of outdoor activity that may cause difficulties for people will be different. For example, when air pollution levels rise, daily activities such as walking the dog may cause problems for some people. Others may not be affected until doing more strenuous activity such as running. People should limit outdoor activity depending on how air quality affects them.