Improving the current air quality index with new particulate indicators using a robust statistical approach

Pak Lun Fung, Salla Sillanpää, Jarkko V. Niemi, Anu Kousa, Hilkka Timonen, Martha Arbayani Zaidan, Erkka Saukko, Markku Kulmala, Tuukka Petäjä, Tareq Hussein

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review


To convey the severity of ambient air pollution level to the public, air quality index (AQI) is used as a communication tool to reflect the concentrations of individual pollutants on a common scale. However, due to the enhanced air pollution control in recent years, air quality has improved, and the roles of some air pollutant species included in the existing AQI as urban air pollutants have diminished. In this study, we suggest the current AQI should be revised in a way that new air pollution indicators would be considered so that it would better represent the health effects caused by local combustion processes from traffic and residential burning. Based on the air quality data of 2017-2019 in three different sites in Helsinki metropolitan area, we assumed the statistical distributions of the current indicators (NO2 and PM2.5) and the proposed particulate indicators (BC, LDSA and PNC) were related as they have similar sources in urban regions despite the varying correlations between the current and proposed indicators (NO2: r = 0.5-0.85, PM2.5: r = 0.28-0.72). By fitting the data to an optimal distribution function, together with expert opinions, we improved the current Finnish AQI and determined the AQI breakpoints for the proposed indicators where this robust statistical approach is transferrable to other cities. The addition of the three proposed indicators to the current AQI would decrease the number of good air quality hours in all three environments (largest decrease in urban traffic site, similar to 22 %). The deterioration of air quality class appeared more severe during peak hours in the urban traffic site due to vehicular emission and evenings in the detached housing site where domestic wood combustion often takes place. The introduction of the AQI breakpoints of the three new indicators serve as a first step of improving the current AQI before further air quality guideline levels are updated.

TidskriftScience of the Total Environment
Antal sidor14
StatusPublicerad - 20 okt. 2022
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


  • 1172 Miljövetenskap

Citera det här