Monitoring particulate matter in India: recent trends and future outlook

Pallavi Pant, Raj M. Lal, Sarath K. Guttikunda, Armistead G. Russell, Ajay S. Nagpure, Anu Ramaswami, Richard E. Peltier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Air quality remains a significant environmental health challenge in India, and large sections of the population live in areas with poor ambient air quality. This article presents a summary of the regulatory monitoring landscape in India, and includes a discussion on measurement methods and other available government data on air pollution. Coarse particulate matter (PM 10 ) concentration data from the national regulatory monitoring network for 12 years (2004–2015) were systematically analyzed to determine broad trends. Less than 1% of all PM 10 measurements (11 out of 4789) were found to meet the annual average WHO Air Quality Guideline (20 μg/m 3 ), while 19% of the locations were in compliance with the Indian air quality standards for PM 10 (60 μg/m 3 ). Further efforts are necessary to improve measurement coverage and quality including the use of hybrid monitoring systems, harmonized approaches for sampling and data analysis, and easier data accessibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalAir Quality, Atmosphere and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding information This work was financially supported by NSF

Funding Information:
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) network ( was launched in Delhi in 2010 by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM, Pune) in collaboration with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMWRF) and is supported by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The program currently runs in Delhi (launched in 2010), Pune (launched in 2013), Mumbai (launched in 2015), and Ahmedabad (launched in 2017) with plans for expansion to Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Chennai. The network has ten air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) in each city equipped with real-time, continuous monitors for a range of pollutants including PM1,PM2.5,PM10,O3, nitrogen oxides (NOx), SO2, black carbon (BC), methane (CH4), non-methane hydrocarbons (NHMC), VOCs (BTEX) and mercury (Hg), and meteorological variables including solar radiation, rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and direction. At some locations, ammonia (NH3) is also measured. Like the CPCB network, SAFAR also has a smartphone app, disseminating calculated AQI values for the criteria pollutants (as a city average) and anticipated AQI for the 2 days. This information is also disseminated on real-time display boards in each city. However, it is important to note that the AQI method utilized under this program is different from the national approach approved by the CPCB (see Table S1) (Beig et al. 2015). AQ data from the network are embargoed for 3 years but are available for public use (upon request and justification, submitted to IITM Pune) thereafter.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Air pollution policy
  • Air quality monitoring
  • India
  • PM
  • WHO Air Quality Guidelines


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