Tracking air quality helps us create awareness about the impact of pollution on our human health and climate health. This knowledge also informs environmental recommendations that ask policymakers to implement sustainable practices that improve air quality for everyone.
Historically, low-income marginalized communities have been impacted the most by air pollution. Harmful air quality from industrial mishaps, construction projects, and car emissions, among other sources, can lead to allergies, asthma, and other serious respiratory health issues. By being aware of air quality conditions, communities can take reactionary precautions to protect their health, such as wearing masks and using air purifiers. Equally as important, air quality data can help policymakers enact environmental policy that proactively mitigates pollution-related respiratory health diseases in the long-term.
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National Sensor Networks for AQ
There are now great sources to learn about your air quality in real-time. Most of these websites utilize the Air Quality Index (AQI), a color-coded index designed to communicate whether air quality is healthy or unhealthy for you. It ranges from 0-500, with higher numbers indicating greater levels of pollution. Below is a chart with the different colors indicating what they mean:
Check out the resources below for real-time air quality information!
- IQ Air
- EPA’s Interactive Map of Air Quality Monitors
- Plume Lab’s World Air Map
- AirCare – Air Quality & Pollen App
- National Weather Service
Sensor networks help us collect real-time air quality information across a vast area. Low-cost air quality sensor networks can further capture the full variability of air quality data across a local region. The detailed information collected from low-cost sensors can solidify our understanding of pollution patterns at a local level and support evidence-based decisions to improve air quality.
Low-cost sensor networks encourage individuals to engage in air quality data collection based on their daily lived experience. Existing low-cost sensor initiatives have demonstrated that community science can empower communities to advance and advocate for improved air quality. This grassroots approach is a key tool to fill in gaps in research and policy that can overlook vulnerable populations.
- Environmental Justice Advocacy Services’s EyeAlerta
The air we breathe impacts our health. Specialized research into specific air pollutants helps us identify the sources and exposure pathways of specific air pollutants, such as particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen oxides. As a result, a thorough understanding of specific pollutants becomes even more important in concentrated cities and agricultural areas where sources of air pollutants overlap. In other words, specialized research helps us grasp the health impacts and environmental risks associated with specific pollutants and highlights the need for equitable solutions.