What does orange mean on the AQI scale?

In order to make the Air Quality Index understandable,the Environmental Protection Agency has assigned a specific color to all the six levels of AQI. Each color has its own AQI value which signifies the pollution levels of a particular city. 

So, in this article we will see what does orange mean on the AQI scale, and which groups are affected by this AQI. We will also discuss ways to protect ourselves from the effect of such harmful pollutants. 

What does orange mean on the AQI scale?

The Orange color on AQI scale means that the air conditions are unhealthy; especially for the sensitive groups. The orange color signifies the value of 101-150 on the AQI scale. The people with preexisting health conditions, elderly people and children fall into this group. 

What is the Air Quality Index and what is its significance?

With the pollution levels rising at an alarming rate, the Environmental Protection Agency has established air quality monitoring systems to keep a record of major pollutants. 

The Air Quality Index tells you whether the air is clean or polluted. This can help us protect ourselves from the exposure of harmful pollutants.  

The AQI monitors the six main criteria pollutants. Depending on the concentrations of each pollutant, the pollutants are assigned a color coded index. This ranges from 0-500. The pollutant having the highest concentration is marked with an AQI value for that day.  

Below is the table showing the Air Quality Index: 

Air Quality IndexLevels Color coding 
0-50  Good Green 
51-100 Moderateyellow
101-150 Unhealthy For  Sensitive Groups Orange 
151-200  UnhealthyRed
201-300  Very Unhealthy Purple
301-500  Hazardous Maroon

Which group of people are affected by the AQI level of 101-150?

The Orange color on the AQI scale depicts that the air quality is unhealthy for the sensitive groups. However, healthy people are not likely to get affected by this air quality. 

The people with preexisting health conditions; like lung disease (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and heart disease (hypertension, heart failure ), children, diabetics and elderly people (65 years and above) are at a higher risk of exposure. 

How can you limit your exposure to these harmful pollutants?

Below are some of the measures you can take up to limit your exposure to these harmful pollutants: 

Monitor air pollution levels to get insight about pollution levels

You can keep a check on the air quality index of your area to get insight about the pollution levels. There are certain websites designed for this purpose such as the Environmental Protection Agency. These sites can be accessed anytime of the day. You can also contact the local hospitals to get an insight. The local news and radio channels also notify you about the Air Quality Index of your area. 

Reduce the outside exposure:

People falling in the sensitive group should limit their outdoor exposure and also reduce their outdoor exposure. Avoid going outdoors during the peak hours of pollution. Air pollution levels are highest in the afternoon, so try not to go outside at that time. Doing so can increase the chance of getting exposed to high levels of pollution. 

Wear face masks

If you are an asthamatic wearing a facemask like N95 and KN95 respirators can protect you from the harmful pollutants. 

Avoid high-pollution areas

Pollution levels are the highest near the roadways especially within 1/4 mile of a road. Highly congested urban areas and smoking areas should also be avoided. 

However, we cannot reduce the pollution levels in just a single day but by making certain lifestyle changes we can contribute our part to reduce the emissions. We can encourage our families, friends, neighbours etc, to contribute their part. 

Check for ozone concentrations

During early mornings, the pollutant concentrations; particularly the ground level ozone, are lower as compared to mid afternoon. So you can plan your activities in the mornings. However, If the AQI has reached harmful levels you can schedule your outdoor activities to the next day. 

However the normal physical activities can be performed indoors under controlled conditions like air conditioners and air purifiers when ozone concentrations are significantly high outside. 

Below is the activity recommendation table that will help you to choose the right time for outdoor activities:

Air Quality IndexShort duration (15 mins )Duration for Prolonged exertion (1 hour)Duration for strenuous activities( 2-4+ hrs)Duration for scheduled activities like sports events 
0-50  Good Safe for outdoor activities Safe for outdoor activities Safe for outdoor activities Safe for outdoor activities 
51-100 ModerateSafe for outdoor activities Safe for outdoor activities Safe for outdoor activities Safe for outdoor activities 
101-150  Unhealthy For      Sensitive Groups Sensitive groups should take extra precautions
For Healthy people: Short duration physical activities can be done 
Sensitive groups should take extra precautions
Ideal for mild physical activities for healthy people
Sensitive groups should take extra precautionsIdeal for mild physical activities with frequent rest periods for healthy people. Sensitive people should limit their outdoor exposure
Ideal for mild physical activities with frequent rest periods for healthy people. 
151-200  UnhealthySensitive groups should choose moderate activities or stay indoors
Healthy people: Short duration physical activities can be done but watch for symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath 
Sensitive groups should choose moderate activities or stay indoors
Healthy people: Mild exercise can be done but watch for symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath 
Asthmatics should take extra precautions; they should keep their quick relief medicine ready.
Healthy people: Avoid doing strenuous exercises with frequent rest periods 
All the outdoor  activities should be rescheduled or relocation is ideal in this situation for all the groups.  
201-300  Very Unhealthy All the groups should restrict outdoor activity, preferably stay indoors.All the groups should restrict outdoor activity, preferably stay indoorsAll the groups shouldrestrict outdoor activity, preferably stay indoorsAll the outdoor activities should be reschedule or relocation is ideal in this situation
301-500Hazardous All the groups should preferably stay indoorsAll the groups should preferably stay indoorsAll the groups should preferably stay indoorsAll the groups should preferably stay indoors

Check for particle pollution concentration: 

Particle Pollution (PM2.5): when the concentration of PM2.5 is high in the ambient air, the air quality both outdoors and indoors gets affected. In this case the amount of outdoor physical activities should be limited. 

In such a case, installing air purifiers and HVAC systems will improve the indoor air quality. 

Given below are the links of few air purifiers that will keep your house clean and safe:

Air purifier : GermGuardian Air Purifier

  • Features: Germ guardian 5 in 1 air purifier is an electrostatic HEPA air filter and offers a removal efficiency of about 99.97% against particles as small as 0.3 microns. 
  • Efficiently removes harmful germs like viruses, odor causing bacteria, mold spores, mildew, and other allergens like;  dust, pet hair, and other large particles; like PM10
  • The efficient UV-C light kills airborne viruses such as influenza, staph and rhinovirus. 
  • The filter also removes the VOC concentration with the help of titanium dioxide. 
  • The activated charcoal filter is effective against cooking odor, tobacco smoke, fumes, pet odor etc. 
  • Offers quiet operation; with the Ultra-quiet sleep mode it operates on low sound levels to get you a good night’s sleep.  
  • GermGuardian Air Purifiers are ideal for medium to large rooms having an area of about 743 sq ft.

Air purifier: Westinghouse 1701 HEPA Air Purifier with Patented Medical Grade NCCO Technology

  • Features: Westinghouse air purifier uses the patented NCCO technology (Nano Confined Catalytic Oxidation) which kills the harmful pollutants by the action of active oxygen. The harmful pollutants are decomposed into harmless compounds such as carbon dioxide and water molecules
  • This air purifier offers a four stage purification process; namely the Pre-filter, Oxygen Generator, True HEPA filter, and the NCCO Reactor.
  • Westinghouse air purifier is a medical grade true HEPA filter with removal efficiency of 99.97 against allergens as small as 0.3 microns. 
  • When the filter needs to be replaced the filter indicator provides an alert. 
  • The purifier is suitable for large to medium rooms like bedroom, kitchen, office, etc having an area of about 300 sq ft.

Air purifier: GermGuardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier

  • Features: Germ guardian 5 in 1 air purifier is an electrostatic HEPA air filter and offers a removal efficiency of about 99.97% against particles as small as 0.3 microns. 
  • Efficiently removes harmful germs like viruses, odor causing bacteria, mold spores, mildew, and other allergens like;  dust, pet hair, and other large particles.
  • The efficient UV-C light kills airborne viruses such as influenza, staph and rhinovirus. 
  • The filter also removes the VOC concentration with the help of titanium dioxide. 
  • The activated charcoal filter is effective against cooking odor, tobacco smoke, fumes, pet odor etc. 
  • Offers quiet operation; with the Ultra-quiet sleep mode it operates on low sound levels to get you a good night’s sleep.  
  • GermGuardian Air Purifiers are ideal for medium to large rooms having an area of about 743 sq ft

 

By installing an HVAC systems 

The HVAC system works efficiently towards filtering airborne contaminants and also helps in continuous circulation of air.

Given below are the links of few HVAC systems that will keep your house clean and safe:

HVAC System:  Honeywell F300E1019 Electronic Air Cleaner

  • Features: This can be operated with gas, oil and AC systems. 
  • Efficiency for capturing particles is upto 98%.
  • Has a very low pressure drop

HVAC System: DAIKIN Inverter Air Conditioner Heat Pump System

  • Features: Daikin’s ductless technology offers  greater  energy efficiency; cools and warms up the room fast.
  • Smart inverter technology with integrated inverted variable speed compressor
  • Provides continuous heating and cooling with minimum temperature fluctuations.
  • Quiet operation; with indoor sound levels as low as 37 decibels. 

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

What does AQI stand for?

What does an Air Quality Index of 159 mean?

What does an Air Quality Index of 154 mean?

Conclusion 

So, in this article we saw what does orange mean on the AQI scale, and which groups are affected by this AQI. We also discussed ways to protect ourselves from the effect of such harmful pollutants. 

We hope that you found this article helpful.

Thank you.

References

https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/verify/unhealthy-air-quality-index-for-sensitive-groups-explained-wildfire-smoke/65-f649d685-0608-4b8a-a688-139bc426fe6b
https://gacc.nifc.gov/swcc/dc/nmsdc/documents/Prescribed%20Fire/Understanding%20AQI.pdf
https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2011/07/bad-air-day

hthttps://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-information/air-quality/pm10-particles-in-the-air

https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-information/air-quality/pm25-particles-in-the-air
https://www.lung.org/clean-air/outdoors/what-makes-air-unhealthy/ozone#:~:text=Often%20called%20%22smog%2C%22%20ozone%20is%20harmful%20to%20breathe.&text=The%20ozone%20layer%20found%20high,troposphere)
https://www.filtrete.com/3M/en_US/filtrete/home-tips/full-story/~/air-awareness-101-air-quality-index-decoded/?storyid=904ac859-c836-4cd1-af67-d6be265570a9
https://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-aqd-AQI-Actions_327479_7.pdf
https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-information/air-quality/ozone-in-the-air
https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-information/air-quality/pm10-particles-in-the-air
https://www.filtrete.com/3M/en_US/filtrete/home-tips/full-story/~/air-awareness-101-air-quality-index-decoded/?storyid=904ac859-c836-4cd1-af67-d6be265570a9
https://www.epa.gov/outdoor-air-quality-data/air-data-basic-information
https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/48858

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