Air pollutants are added in the atmosphere from variety of sources that change the composition of atmosphere and affect the biotic environment. The concentration of air pollutants depends not only on the quantities that are emitted from air pollution sources but also on the ability of the atmosphere to either absorb or disperse these emissions. The air pollution concentration varies spatially and temporarily causing the air pollution pattern to change with different locations and time due to changes in meteorological and topographical condition.

Because of the presence of high amount of air pollutants in the ambient air, the health of the population and property is getting adversely affected. In order to arrest the deterioration in air quality, Govt. of India has enacted Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act in 1981. The responsibility has been further emphasized under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. It is necessary to assess the present and anticipated air pollution through continuous air quality survey/monitoring programs. Therefore, Central Pollution Control Board had started National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (NAAQM) Network during 1984 – 85 at national level. The programme was later renamed as National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP).

The report presents guidelines for carrying out ambient air quality monitoring under NAMP. Ambient air quality monitoring is carried out so as to generate data that meets the objectives of monitoring. Ambient air quality monitoring programme are needed to determine the existing quality of air, evaluation of the effectiveness of control programme and to develop new programme. The report aims towards developing a more uniform air monitoring network so that data from various stations is comparable. The report discusses the various aspects of air quality monitoring network such as, which pollutants should be monitored, location where monitoring should be carried out and the various techniques of monitoring. The legal requirements in India for carrying out ambient air quality monitoring are also discussed. These requirements serve as basis on which objectives of ambient air quality monitoring are determined.

The ambient air quality monitoring network involves measurement of a number of air pollutants at number of locations in the country so as to meet objectives of the monitoring. Any air quality monitoring network thus involves selection of pollutants, selection of locations, frequency, duration of sampling, sampling techniques, infrastructural facilities, man power and operation and maintenance costs. The network design also depends upon the type of pollutants in the atmosphere through various common sources, called common urban air pollutants, such as Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), and Carbon Monoxide (CO) etc. . The areas to be chosen primarily are such areas which represent high traffic density, industrial growth, human population and its distribution, emission source, public complaints if any and the land use pattern etc. Generally, most of the time the basis of a network design are the pollution source and the pollutant present.

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