Revision of Air Quality Standards

 Government has notified National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for 12 pollutants in 2009 to protect public health and environment from air pollution.

Review of the existing standards, criteria governing these standards as well as incorporating new parameters with advances in scientific research is a continuous process. With changes in fuel, technology and demographics as well as advances in air pollution measurement techniques, risk and exposure assessment, review of Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are carried for better improvement in public health. Review of NAAQS has been sanctioned to a joint team lead by IIT Kanpur.

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 stipulates functions of Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Board as given below:

Section 16(2)(h) – Central Pollution Control Board may lay down standards for quality of air.

Section 17(1)(g) – State Pollution Control Board shall lay down, in consultation with the Central Pollution Control Board and having regard to the standards for the quality of air laid down by the Central Pollution Control Board, standards for emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from industrial plants and automobiles or for the discharge of any air pollutant into the atmosphere from any other source whatsoever not being a ship or an aircraft.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has published WHO’s Air Quality guideline (AQG) in September, 2021, The guideline makes recommendations for air quality levels to protect health of population and specifically mention that national standards should be decided in due consideration of other governing factors like background level, socio-economic status, national goals and further scientific research based outcome.

However, these guidelines for ambient air quality are guidance to policy makers and not legally binding. Periodic revision of NAAQS is undertaken to include new advancements in air pollution monitoring and its health impact.