The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to record air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the globe. As part of this initiative, U.S. Embassy Colombo installed an air quality monitor (AQM) in central Colombo. The data for the Embassy’s Air Quality Monitor in Colombo is available at the EPA AirNow website. Please note that data from the Embassy’s monitoring station may differ from the air quality in other areas of the city.
PM 2.5 is a standard recognized by the U.S. EPA and allows us to compare against U.S. standard measures. PM 2.5 particulates are of concern since they are small enough to directly enter the lungs and even the blood stream. Particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5) are referred to as “fine” particulates and are believed to pose the largest health risks–those risks are likely to be more severe for sensitive populations, including people with heart or lung disease, children, and older adults.
The U.S. EPA has developed a formula to convert PM 2.5 readings into an air quality index (AQI) value that can be of assistance in making health-related decisions. For example, an AQI value of 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. For more information on AQI and how it is calculated, please visit the U.S. EPA website. The following chart is a useful guide to air quality readings you may see from the Embassy’s air quality monitor.
|Air Quality Index Levels of Health Concern||Numerical Value||Meaning|
|Good||0 to 50||Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk|
|Moderate||51 to 100||Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||101 to 150||Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.|
|Unhealthy||151 to 200||Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.|
|Very Unhealthy||201 to 300||Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.|
|Hazardous||301 to 500||Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.|