Development of an Aggregate Air Quality Index Using a PCA-Based Method: A Case Study of the US Transportation Sector


For the past couple of decades, the transportation sector has made efforts to preserve and improve air quality for public health and sustainable growth between current and future generations. An easily understandable tool to measure the level of air pollution in the transportation sector by considering multiple air pollutants together might raise awareness about clean air to the public, practitioners, state policy planners, and the government. For this reason, this study develops an aggregate air quality index to help prepare decision makers, which could rank a state according to the different levels of multiple air pollutants. The index is developed for use with principal com-ponent analysis and an algebra about a line segment, and then applied to the US transportation sector using data on five air pollutants (CO, NOx, PM, SO2, and VOCs) in 2008. This study finds that some states were less polluted or more polluted in terms of the index, although their GDP levels for a transport mode were similar to each other. Thus, this finding implies that the necessary actions for stricter air quality standards must be taken in their boundaries.

Share and Cite:

Choi, J. , Park, Y. and Park, J. (2015) Development of an Aggregate Air Quality Index Using a PCA-Based Method: A Case Study of the US Transportation Sector. American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, 5, 53-65. doi: 10.4236/ajibm.2015.52007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Kampa, M. and Castanas, E. (2008) Human Health Effects of Air Pollution. Environmental Pollution, 151, 362-367.
[2] Chang, T. and Gross, T. (2014) Particulate Pollution and the Productivity of Pear Packers.
[3] Zivin, J.S.G. and Neidell, M.J. (2014) The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity.
[4] Greenstone, M. and Looney, A. (2011) We Are What We Breathe: The Impacts of Air Pollution on Employment and Productivity.
[5] Wyon, D. (2014) The Effects of Indoor Air Quality on Performance and Productivity.
[6] Kosonen, R. and Tan, F. (2004) The Effect of Perceived Indoor Air Quality on Productivity Loss. Energy and Buildings, 36, 981-986.
[7] Wargocki, P., Wyon, D.P. and Fanger, P.O. (2000) Productivity Is Affected by the Air Quality in Offices. Proceedings of Healthy Buildings, 1, 635-640.
[8] Peck, W. and Harmelink, M. (2014) Transportation Air Pollution.
[9] Gorham, R. (2014) Air Pollution from Ground Transportation.
[10] Thom, G.C. and Ott, W.R. (1975) Air Pollution Indices: A Compendium and Assessment of Indices Used in the U.S. and Canada. Ann Arbor Science Publishers, Ann Arbor.
[11] The Federal Interagency Task Force (1976) A Recommended Air Pollution Index. United States Government Printing Office, Washington DC.
[12] Hämekoski, K. (1998) The Use of a Simple Air Quality Index in the Helsinki Area, Finland. Environmental Management, 22, 517-520.
[13] The United States Environmental Protection Agency. Air Quality Index Reporting: Final Rule.
[14] Trozzi, C., Vaccaro, R. and Crocetti, S. (1999) Air Quality Index and Its Use in Italy’s Management Plans. Science of the Total Environment, 235, 387-389.
[15] Sharma, M., Maheshwari, M., Sengupta, B. and Shukla, B. (2003) Design of a Website for Dissemination of Air Quality Index in India. Environmental Modelling & Software, 18, 405-411.
[16] Sharma, M., Pandey, R., Maheshwari, M., Sengupta, B., Shukla, B., Gupta, N. and Johri, S. ( 2003) Interpretation of Air Quality Data Using an Air Quality Index for the City of Kanpur, India. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, 2, 435-462.
[17] Murena, F. (2004) Measuring Air Quality over Large Urban Areas: Development and Application of an Air Pollution Index at the Urban Area of Naples. Atmospheric Environment, 38, 6195-6202.
[18] Nagendra, S.S., Venugopal, K. and Jones, S.L. (2007) Assessment of Air Quality near Traffic Intersections in Bangalore City Using Air Quality Indices. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 12, 167-176.
[19] Wen, X.-J., Balluz, L. and Mokdad, A. (2009) Association between Media Alerts of Air Quality Index and Change of Outdoor Activity among Adult Asthma in Six States, BRFSS, 2005. Journal of Community Health, 34, 40-46.
[20] Eder, B., Kang, D.W., Trivikrama, R.S., Rohit, M., Shaocai, Y., Tanya, O., Ken, S., Richard, W., Scott, J., Paula, D., Jeff, M. and George, B. (2010) Using National Air Quality Forecast Guidance to Develop Local Air Quality Index Forecasts. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 91, 313-326.
[21] Swamee, P.K. and Tyagi, A. (1999) Formation of an Air Pollution Index. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 49, 88-91.
[22] Cheng, W.-L., Kuo, Y.-C., Lin, P.-L., Chang, K.-H., Chen, Y.-S., Lin, T.-M. and Huang, R. (2004) Revised Air Quality Index Derived from an Entropy Function. Atmospheric Environment, 38, 383-391.
[23] Cheng, W.-L., Chen, Y.-S., Zhang, J., Lyons, T., Pai, J.-L. and Chang, S.-H. (2007) Comparison of the Revised Air Quality Index with the PSI and AQI Indices. Science of the Total Environment, 382, 191-198.
[24] Kyrkilis, G., Chaloulakou, A. and Kassomenos, P.A. (2007) Development of an Aggregate Air Quality Index for an Urban Mediterranean Agglomeration: Relation to Potential Health Effects. Environment International, 33, 670-676.
[25] Bishoi, B., Prakash, A. and Jain, V. (2009) A Comparative Study of Air Quality Index Based on Factor Analysis and US-EPA Methods for an Urban Environment. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 9, 1-17.
[26] Longhurst, J. (2005) 1 to 100: Creating an Air Quality Index in Pittsburgh. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 106, 27-42.
[27] Stieb, D.M., Doiron, M.S., Blagden, P. and Burnett, R.T. (2005) Estimating the Public Health Burden Attributable to Air Pollution: An Illustration Using the Development of an Alternative Air Quality Index. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues, 68, 1275-1288.
[28] Stieb, D.M., Burnett, R.T., Marc, S.-D., Brion, O., Shin, H.H. and Economou, V. (2008) A New Multipollutant, No-Threshold Air Quality Health Index Based on Short-Term Associations Observed in Daily Time-Series Analyses. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 58, 435-450.
[29] Mohan, M. and Kandya, A. (2007) An Analysis of the Annual and Seasonal Trends of Air Quality Index of Delhi. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 131, 267-277.
[30] Mayera, H., Holsta, J., Schindlera, D. and Ahrensb, D. (2008) Evolution of the Air Pollution in SW Germany Evaluated by the Long-Term Air Quality Index LAQx. Atmospheric Environment, 42, 5071-5078.
[31] Sowlat, M.H., Gharibi, H., Yunesian, M., Mahmoudi, M. and Lotfi, S. (2011) A Novel, Fuzzy-Based Air Quality Index (FAQI) for Air Quality Assessment. Atmospheric Environment, 45, 2050-2059.
[32] Vyas, S. and Kumaranayake, L. (2006) Constructing Socio-Economic Status Indices: How to Use Principal Components Analysis. Health Policy Plan, 21, 459-468.
[33] Soler-Rovira, J. and Soler-Rovira, P. (2008) Assessment of Aggregated Indicators of Sustainability Using PCA: The Case of Apple Trade in Spain. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on LCA in the Agri-Food Sector, Zurich, 12-14 November 2008, 133-143.
[34] Ali Hatem, M.M. (2009) Development of Arab Water Sustainability Index Using Principal Component Analysis. Proceedings of the 13th International Water Technology Conference, Hurghada, 1563-1578.
[35] Li, T., Zhang, H., Yuan, C. and Liu, Z. (2012) A PCA-Based Method for Construction of Composite Sustainability Indicators. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 17, 593-603.
[36] Hosseini, H.M. and Kaneko, S. (2011) Dynamic Sustainability Assessment of Countries at the Macro Level: A Principal Component Analysis. Ecological Indicators, 11, 811-823.
[37] Park, Y.S., Egilmez, G. and Kucukvar, M. (2015) A Novel Life Cycle-Based Principal Component Analysis Framework for Eco-Efficiency Analysis: Case of the U.S. Manufacturing and Transportation Nexus. Journal of Cleaner Production, in Press.
[38] Tripping, M.E. and Bishop, C.M. (2002) Probabilistic Principal Component Analysis. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Statistical Methodology), 61, 611-622.
[39] Nagendra, S.S. and Khare, M. (2003) Principal Component Analysis of Urban Traffic Characteristics and Meteorological Data. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 8, 285-297.
[40] Rencher, A.C. and Christensen, W.F. (2012) Methods of Multivariate Analysis. 3rd Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken.
[41] Han, B., Bai, Z., Ji, H., Guo, G., Wang, F., Shi, G. and Li, X. (2009) Chemical Characterizations of PM10 Fraction of Paved Road Dust in Anshan, China. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 14, 599-603.
[42] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (2014) Air Quality Trends.
[43] Choi, J., Roberts, D.C. and Lee, E. (2014) Forecast of CO2 Emissions from the U.S. Transportation Sector: Estimation from a Double Exponential Smoothing Model. Journal of the Transportation Research Forum, 53, 63-82.
[44] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (2014) Air Pollution and the Clean Air Act.
[45] Mendenhall, W. and Sincich, T. (2011) A Second Course in Statistics: Regression Analysis. 7th Edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, 797.
[46] Ramzan, S., Zahid, F.M. and Ramzan, S. (2013) Evaluating Multivariate Normality: A Graphical Approach. MiddleEast Journal of Scientific Research, 13, 254-263.
[47] The United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (2014) Industry Data.
[48] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (2014) Emission Inventories.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.