Air pollution can be measured in many ways, mainly either by measuring pollution as a concentration of air or as it is being produced by a source. You can find a full explanation at the site cited below, and this is a fun video:
Air quality is measured using the Air Quality Index, or AQI. This index is used to provide information about the expected negative health effects for people breathing the polluted air. Five different pollutants are measured by the EPA using the AQI: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. These are all pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act, and the first two on the list are considered to pose the greatest threat to human health.
The AQI runs from 0 to 500, with the higher number indicating a higher threat to human health. It is divided into six categories, associated also with different colors, labeled Good, Moderate, Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy, and Hazardous. Sensitive groups include children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory disorders.
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