Air quality categories (AQC) are colour indicators used to summarise air quality measurements. In New South Wales, five colour indicators are used to classify air quality as either 'Good', 'Fair', 'Poor', 'Very Poor' or 'Extremely Poor'.
The AQC is determined by measurements of key air pollutants we monitor at our monitoring locations:
- particles less than 2.5 micrometres diameter (PM2.5)
- particles less than 10 micrometres diameter (PM10)
- nitrogen dioxide
- carbon monoxide
- sulfur dioxide
The AQC is reported for each station, and for each region comprising the New South Wales Air Quality Monitoring Network. Details on how monitoring data are used to derive the AQC are in the tab below.
What the air quality categories mean for you
The AQC colours provide at-a-glance information to help people plan their activities, as shown in the Environmental Health Standing Committee's (enHealth) activity guide below.
By using the AQC colours and following general health recommendations stated in the activity guide below, you can take steps to limit your exposure to air pollution. For example, if the AQC at your local station is ‘Very Poor’ (red), the health advice in the activity guide can assist you in understanding how this might affect your health and recommend actions to take.
Some people are more sensitive to air pollution than others. Sensitive groups include people with heart or lung condition including asthma, people over the age of 65, infants and children, and pregnant women. The activity guide therefore has different recommendations for sensitive groups for each air quality category. General advice on actions you can take to protect yourself and your health at each colour category are also provided.
How air quality categories are derived
The graphic below shows air quality category (AQC) colours, which are summarised at the pollutant, site and regional level.